Being an American kid in Nigeria

This is the second blog post from Karina, an 11-year old who grew up in the US, but has lived for the past few years in Nigeria, where she is blogging for TLC Middle School this summer. Please ask questions by commenting below. If you look at the comments on Karina’s first blog post, you will see she is diligent about responding to comments!

In Nigeria sometimes it’s hard being an American kid. Usually, when I meet new kids in Ife (see previous post — Ife is the city where Karina lives with her family) there is one thing they want to know, which is, where I am from. When I tell them I am from America they ask silly questions like, “Do all Americans have long hair?” or they make fun of me because they say I sound funny. Some kids in Nigeria are intimidated or mean because I am American. For example, they make fun of my accent or they stare at me all the time. So, it can be hard for me in Nigeria.

Being singled-out however, doesn’t just happen to kids who are different in Nigeria; it also happens to kids who are different in America. In America some kids are mean to other kids who are not from the U.S. and sometimes bully kids who grew up in different countries. Some kids don’t take the time to understand a different culture. I have some Nigerian friends who do take time to understand different cultures. A good example are two friends I have; when I met them, they could understand me and didn’t make fun of my accent. One of them grew up in England and moved to Nigeria, which is similar to me growing up in America and moving to Nigeria. My other friend’s grandma is from America but he grew up in Nigeria. So it’s easy for me to relate to them. Though most of my friends who do not make fun of me have foreign connections, I do have some friends who have not traveled out of Nigeria who are nice to me.

I have found ignorance in both America and Nigeria after living in both places. In America there are people who are unfriendly towards Nigerians and anyone who doesn’t have an American accent. For example, my Dad said when he was in college in the U.S. people would make fun of his accent and ask ridiculous questions about Africa. Even though he is Nigerian-American and his American family is from Massachusetts they still acted offensively towards him because he grew up in Nigeria. I think the problem is that the people can be ignorant when they see somebody different from themselves. Instead of acting nice they act mean and don’t really think before they talk. I think when kids meet different people they should act nice. They should stay opened minded, and they should remember that their questions may be based on stereotypes, so they should be ready to hear other parts of the story they may not have expected to hear.

Over and out.

About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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7 Responses to Being an American kid in Nigeria

  1. Do you think that if you came from another African country the Nigerian kids wouldn’t bully you as much?

    • Hey Kola, ):
      I don’t really know because I am not from another African country. But one person that grew up in Ife* and whose father is from Uganda said that he was bullied because he didn’t speak Yoruba.
      * the dominant native language and group in Ife is Yoruba.

  2. winema jackson says:

    Dear Karina,

    i’m sorry that some of the children were mean to you. However, I’m so glad that you are open-minded and willing to treat people with respect!! I really appreciate this blog. It makes me think about the questions I may want to ask people in the future. I really look forward to your next blog!!

    Aunt A

  3. sikivu says:

    Hi Karina:
    Thanks for the insightful and reflective post. Your points on the prevalence of bullying and stereotyping in the U.S. are very well taken. It’s unfortunate that many youth remain so intolerant and unaware of the multicultural diversity/richness of other cultures and the world around them. I appreciate your probing writing style and eagerly await the creation of your own independent blog!
    all best,
    Aunt Sikivu

  4. Dafina says:

    Hi Karina,

    Thanks for pointing out part of your experience as you travel between Nigeria and the United States.Sorry you had to deal with difficult situations where people didn’t treat you kindly, but I am also glad to hear that you found friends to connect with. I hope you continue to find good people to have fun with during your travels.

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