Fancy Being Nigerian For A Day?
A group of 70 American students have taken part in a programme to help students from low-income families prepare for college at Princeton University.
The Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP) is a multiyear, tuition-free institute that fosters academic achievement and prepares low-income, high-achieving students from Princeton-area school districts for admission to and success in college.
Every year the PUPP team choose a theme for the ‘scholars- as they’re called, to study and experience diffrent cultures and histories in the hope of inspiring them to step out of their comfort zones and inspire them to be better student and persons.
This year, the theme was Nigerian heritage and culture. Scholars began the programme by watching a screening of the movie Half of A yellow Sun, an adaptation of the novel of the same title by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was followed by presentations and in-depth analysis of Nigerian culture and history with a reading of another of Adichie’s book ‘Americanah’.
Afterwards, the students were split in groups to discuss the Biafran war and how they relate to the stories given their own backgrounds.
PUPP Director Jason Klugman said, “We really like to have the scholars develop a complete perspective, as well as an understanding and knowledge of a specific area,” he said. “For example, last year we focused on Islam and Afghanistan, and scholars learned about Native American culture the year before.”
There was also a sampling of Nigerian cuisine with the students tucking into a selection of Pounded yam, jollof rice and meat stew dishes.
The meals were prepared by students of Nigerian heritage who were also taking part in this year’s programme including Bukke Akabashorun from Lawrence High School, Latifat Bakare from Nottingham High School and Faith Iloka from Trenton Central High School.
Akabashorun said, “There’s a stereotype of Nigeria that it’s poverty-ridden or uncivilized, but seeing people come up and thank us for sharing our culture made me very happy,” she said.
“I really appreciate my peers trying new things with an open mind and not having any biases.”
Most students who have taken part in the programme have gone on to College and graduated or are currently doing well in their place of study.