Nashville Meeting - Alan Frishman 10 Ways Nigeria Changed My Life

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The Peace Corps Changed My Life--Completely in Ten ways

I was a math teacher in a secondary school in Birnin Kudu near Kano for three years (I extended for a third year)

1) It made me realize that although I grew up in NYC, one of the great cities of the world and was a college graduate--I knew nothing about the world I was thrust into in Nigeria. That brought me down a few notches.

2) I realized that I was a good and effective teacher and that I enjoyed teaching-- a career I was dead set against up until that point. I have been a college professor for the past 40 years.

3) I learned to question my own beliefs and ways of doing things as I observed people in another culture ---I have been doing that ever since my PC experience

4) I learned that I could live simply without many Western comforts and still be happy and fulfilled. That gave me a new perspective on what really matters in life.

5) I changed my point of view on wealth and poverty after seeing so many people working incredibly hard and yet living in poverty.

6) I learned patience, flexability and tolerance via many experiences---for example--taking a minimum of 6 hours to travel the 86 miles to Kano every time I took public transport.

7) I never thought I could learn a another language after studying French for 5 years. But after training and six months in Nigeria, I became proficient in Hausa and eventually I became fluent.

8) I awakened my sense of adventure by travelling all over Nigeria , West Africa and hitchhiking across the Sahara Desert.

9) I learned to be independent and self-reliant. I was the only white person for 60 miles around for a year.

10) I became interested in learning more about Nigeria and it has become the center of my academic research.

After the PC

I returned to grad school at Northwestern U. in Economics. I got a Fulbright Scholarship to do my dissertation on Urban Kano's spatial growth and residential housing. So I returned to Kano for 2 and 1/2 years (1972-75). I also taught math at ABU and the Kano State College of Advanced Studies.

I have returned to Nigeria (Abuja and Kano) five more times: in 1980 (six months on a SSRC grant), in 1987, in 1993, in 2001, and most recently in 2009 to do research. I have been studying Kano's urban growth, its large scale industries, the city's many small scale industries as well as the national economy.

I have kept in contact with many Nigerian friends--some of whom have come to the states to visit. Two of my Nigerian fellow teachers at Birnin Kudu went on the become Commissioners of Education of Kano State.

I have interacted with many of my former students on each one of my visits to Nigeria and it has been gratifying to see that many of them have occupations that use math---teachers of math and physics, bankers, surveyors, businessmen, etc. One became a senator and another a Member of the House of Representatives.

I have sponsored and taken care of four Nigerian students --two sons and two daughters of a good friend who have come to study at HWS where I teach.


Slides

Kano has grown to over 3 and 1/2 million people making it the 110th largest city in the world and one of the largest Muslim cities in the world. It has changed from a dual city to one large single city.

The walls have deteriorated and in one section they were torn down to make room for a road. The gates have been rebuilt in a modern form.

Sabon Gari market has become the center of commerce and has overflowed into the streets around it.

Many large scale industries have been established and many have closed. The number increased till 1990 and then declined continuously.

Small scale industries have flourished but they are unstable and there is a great deal of churning.

Kano and Birnin Kudu

Alan Frishman (Group 22)
From 1966 when I arrived in the PC To 2009 –my last visit


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