When I first made the decision to spend at least a year in Nigeria, I also made the decision that serving in the National Youth Service Corps would be the best way to spend that year. Little did I know it would test my patience and faith more than anything else. But I’m staying optimistic.
Now, as I sit in a car park in Kaduna and prepare to venture further north to a state none of my aunties were certain of its location, I try to remind myself why I subjected myself to this journey.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a program that’s existed since Nigeria’s independence. The essence of it is to get university graduates to serve their country, preferably in a region unfamiliar to them so that they get to know more of their nation. They usually do this by being posted to a school, government or nonprofit organization.
The program kicks off with orientation camp (now 3 weeks long, when it used to be two). Camp looks more like boot camp than summer camp. Not sure if they think they are training Nigeria’s national reserve or something. For more info on what camp is like, you check out @Chistory_’s account of it in her blog, traveling with Chi.
I’m trying hard not to think too much about camp because it causes a knot in my stomach based on the stories I’ve heard. I’m approaching this like many of my other traveling stints…Just jump in as prepared as possible and the rest will sort itself out.
So why NYSC?
- Common experience for many Nigerians – so many Nigerians have shared memories of their service and camp days. It’s similar to Americans discussing prom…Only it last for 2-3weeks of hell and then a year of either positive stories or extreme boredome (many people get posted to rural schools and it’s not their cup of tea). Regardless, it’s a common experience.
- Ability to work anywhere in Nigeria – I don’t know what my future holds (as in where I will live and which industry), so I want to make sure all doors are open to me. There are many companies and organizations in Nigeria that will not hire you or will pay you a lower rate if you don’t have your NYSC certificate.
- Serving my country – last but not least, I’m really looking forward to being posted with an organization that will allow me to contribute to the development of Nigeria. I’m hoping to work with an organization that deals with human rights, social justice, gender equality, development, migration – preferably in Abuja (my 4ish months here have wiped out my sense of adventure. I’m all adventured out. I’m working on reserve as I head further north for camp). So if you know an org like that, don’t hesitate to holla (PLEASE!!)
So there you have it. Those are the reasons why I am willingly subjecting myself to this torture. I just pray it will all be worth it in the end. And if not…At least I’ll have more stories for this blog. (p.s. thanks to my cousins and friends that have not so subtlety nudged me to get back on the blog. This post is for you!)