Temilolu Awofesu, a Year 1 student from Nigeria, reflects on how life at ALA has changed his interpretation of Home.
Home. What does it mean?
Home does not necessarily have to be four solid walls with a ceiling in place or the presence of family ties around.
My stay at ALA over the past two months has proven this to me, through the exceptional community relationships, the Wellness Team and the Peer Counselling Families to the amazing Year Two students for their exceptional support in making life here more vibrant and dynamic. I was incredibly anxious at first, coming to campus and being overwhelmed with the diversity as well as being miles away from home. Over time, those miles have found their way back to my feet here on this ground.
To me, home has meant various things that imply serenity: my street address, a place with good Wi-Fi connection and a stockpiled fridge.
Others don’t necessarily share my perspective. Two Year 2 Students from Nigeria showed me how they relate home to ALA as a community. “Home is anywhere I can be myself,” says Kezia Adesanya. Mubarak Adetunji sees home as “A sanctuary of solitude”.
Home can mean various things to many of us at ALA. It carries complex meanings that we may not all agree with, but give us an idea of how we define our own identities around it. As a First Year Student, I have had a complex change in mindset of home.
I wanted to know if others felt the same.
“As cliched as this may sound, home to me is where the heart is and where I feel most loved and safe,” says 16-year old Zeinab Muntaser Ibrahim, a Year One Student from South Sudan. “Here at ALA, I have found a sense of home, as my heart is here. There are people who love me, who take care of me, such as my amazing peer counsellor John Lewis, my friends Fatoumatta, Adaeze, Hadija and my roommate, Chrystal Enobong Edem.”
I see students finding a sense of home in school activities such as Sports; following our Internal League Sporting Competitions, which included Basketball to Volleyball to Tennis and much more. Students across campus gain a sense of home through participation in these games, and a closer relationship with the student body as a whole. Another is our House Lunches and Games, such as “Battle of the Dining Hall”, packed with eye-popping dance moves, wicked table tennis games and foosball!
Most of these things still do not define “home” for others entirely. The main purpose of it is to give us a range of activities and programmes in which we can feel our identities awoken. “Students here work as a family, and that’s what I really admire about ALA. It makes me feel like I’m back home, like I never left,” says Adage Collins (17), another first year from Nigeria.
Home for the holidays
Before ALA, my holidays were invested in families. My parents and I would travel from my mother’s village in Ibadan, Oyo State to the heart of Ikoyi in Lagos State. December holidays have always been the main catalysts of parties and concerts in the commercial city of Lagos. Being a social out-go-er in my peer group, I spend most of my holidays going to see live music performances by my favorite artists like Davido or DRBLASGIDI, or enjoy house parties in with my friends. On weekends, I would spend quality time with my mother reading novels, going Christmas shopping for our relatives or watching comedic movies in the mall. We have “bonding periods” at home during the holiday, where we get time to strengthen our family bonds through outings/interactive games like Scrabble, Monopoly and Twister.
Being far away from home has made me miss the aroma of my mother’s savory dishes, the late-night banter with friends; the incessant smell of suya at night, with bus drivers hurling insults towards one another, and the flamboyant parties and events.
This summer will be different. I will be spending my holidays in the suburbs of Sandton, Johannesburg, most of it preparing for the upcoming SAT’s next year. I will miss home, and when I eventually go back, after more than a year at ALA, I am sure it will be as a new person with new visions – and new perspectives on what home means to me.
Till next year, have a spectacular Christmas & New Year!