Growing Up Nigerian in Diaspora – Interview with Olaoluwa Dada

Identity is a key interest of mine, and unsurprisingly, a theme I like to discuss with people. In this interview, I discuss with Olaoluwa, who shares her personal experience of growing up in the UK. We also discuss issues of belonging in everyday life and more. Click on the link below to watch our discussion.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CL7vncNqdNE/?igshid=t5m64b68b1pk

Persevering With Research

Though most days feel like a blur presently, it does not feel so long ago since I started my PhD study. For readers who may not know, my PhD research is on Nigerian Student Experience, and I currently explore themes of identity, belonging and performance among Nigerian students.

Now, back to my short post!

2020 was a difficult year for me, because I lost track of my work-rhythm and had to fight to find a new rhythm of productivity. I had difficulties reading, writing and understanding; I struggled to find any kind of mental clarity to process my thoughts succinctly.

In that season of struggle, I learned it was important to turn up consistently and try to push my research forward with every ounce of energy I did not have, despite the challenges I faced. I ‘did not have’ any energy because I felt incredibly drained in the process, but I made progress, with continuous effort. I have to thank my amazing family, supervisors, pastor and friends for their support, because their time, counsel and love made (and continue to make) a huge difference to my wellbeing, stability and productivity.

I am currently in my third year of study, and I wish to express how incredibly thankful I am, for the privilege I have to do what I do. I am thankful to have ideas and abilities worthy of use, and I am thankful to research on a subject I enjoy so much!

I am learning, still, to persevere and turn up persistently; I am learning to live by faith and not fear; I am learning to remain grateful and give thanks to God in all situations.

Deconstructing Faith

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Faith is a topic of interest for myself and many others. I was interested in bringing people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to discuss this. Represented in this discussion are Irish, Greek, British, Indonesian and Nigerian nationalities. And Christian, Muslim, Atheist and Agnostic beliefs.

This discussion features perspectives from David Adeola, Dionysios Deligiannis, Mabel Alkali, Farhana Lunat, Anna Hetherington, Andi Rusyaidi, Lanaire Aderemi and Emmanuel Johnson.

Please see links below to stream our download or audio discussion.

 

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Deconstructing Belonging

The idea of belonging is deconstructed in this episode, and several hidden interrelated themes are identified and discussed.

This discussion features contributions from Dr Arinola Adefila, David Adeola, Mabel Alkali, Farhana Lunat, Emmanuel Johnson and Andi Rusyaidi.

See links below to listen/download.

 

Part one

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Part two

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Deconstructing Loneliness

The experience of loneliness is often private, yet deeply relevant. In this episode, I gather 4 other individuals with interest in the subject to share their experiences and understanding of the subject. It features contributions from David Adeola, Mabel Alkali, Andi Rusyaidi and Ade Oyeyipo.

It is split into two parts, please follow links below to stream or download:

Part One:

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Part Two:

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My Faith Capital

Interestingly enough, I’m a PhD student studying the role of faith in international students’ experience. This is an interesting fact because, in addition to my research, I am having to hold up a mirror of self-examination to recognise the faith at work in my own life too.

Ever since starting my PhD in September, I have been on a spiral journey, learning to handle the enormous challenge of independent research, and the responsibilities which follow. This has opened a window of opportunity for personal development, as I am confronted with academic concerns of the highest level. Because of this, I have faced many moments when I begin to wonder how I got here in the first place, or how I hope to confront my new responsibilities; and other times I go through moments of inadequacy. These struggles definitely take their toll on me and make me feel discouraged sometimes.

Nevertheless, I have always had something substantial in me that does not let inadequacy have the last say; something that always carves out a confidence and assurance of hope – and that’s my faith in Christ Jesus and his word. It is worth noting how adaptable faith is, to circumstance. As a 17-year-old international student who arrived in a strange country, with a real background of academic poverty, my challenge then was focused on: how I was going rise above my history of poor academic performance, among gifted students of about 60 countries whom I found myself surrounded by. My faith saw me through that, and seven years later, I find myself relying on that old faith while facing a new challenge.

My faith has been shaped with me over the years. It has proved to be useful as a coping mechanism, which has progressed with time and situation. I have faulted and experienced moments of fear and anxiety, because of the demands of my current position as a PhD student. I had two public presentations of my PhD research in April, and before each, I faced internal conflicts of insufficiency. On both occasions, I turned back to my faith through prayer and bible study. I held onto the bible verses: Habakkuk 3:18-19 and Romans 1:17. I can make a testimony that my faith adapted to see me through both presentations and other responsibilities of mine.

As I go on with my research, I recognise that, the Faith Capital surely is a significant enabler, worthy of personal consideration and use.

The Role of Faith in my PhD Research

Faith is central to me. This stems from a background deeply rooted in the belief of there being more to life than what my natural eyes see. Living, experiencing and exploring the world have constructed the manner in which I approach situations, experiences and ideas.
It is an essential element of my life because it carries within it, a demonstration of how I ought to go about living – dashing across professional and societal aspects, to the most ordinary of practises and rituals within the everyday life of Emmanuel. It characterises my lifestyle, orders my steps and motivates me to improve upon myself.

As I am an individual of faith, looking into how faith helps international students navigate their studies, I realise this would undoubtedly shape the way I approach my PhD research. My perspective is centred on my background as a Christian Nigerian man looking into ways of life different to mine. In addition to that, I am one who has experienced substantial cultural refinement, having studied in diverse UK campuses since 2012, learning and unlearning some presuppositions. Thus, my standpoint diverges against its own self. My interaction with others, and thus considerations about research design, including data collection methods must be undertaken with empathy, tolerance and understanding – bearing in mind at all times that cultures present people with different ways of perceiving the world – ways unique to them, and them alone.

The focus, therefore, is on my ability to use my background in exploring others efficiently; researching and critiquing, in order to draw up findings impactful and true to myself and others.

I am interested in exploring how faith contributes to the academic experience of international students. In this, my faith shall act as an avenue for me to explore identity and difference, zooming in on the reality of being an international student of faith in British Higher Education.

As a result of my faith, I am mindful of difference in viewpoints between my participants and me. I am more than willing to maintain researcher integrity; by being non-judgemental about other perspectives and acknowledging feelings and opinions contrary to mine.

As I undertake this research, the question for me becomes: how can my faith guide, inspire and contribute to my research output?