Adventurous, bonkers, crazy, curious, daring, joie de vivre, restless…. Jegede, waka jugbe, travel-addicts get called many names! Where I come from, many people couldn’t understand why a young woman would travel to new places Alone and pay with her own money. That narrow mindset is changing these days but as an early “solo female adventurer” I was labeled unusual and I understand why. It’s still not the norm but there’s a whole growing #tribe of like-minded travel-addicts out there, from all corners of the world. 🤗
I experience sheer exhilaration when doing random things such as taking my 1st footstep in a new country; sniffing the air when stepping off a plane; trying the core local dishes; collecting mementoes from random cities; even holding hands across two states! 😃
I wasn’t born this way, so WHAT CHANGED ME? In Part. 1, I shared my first travelbug influence and how, from elementary-age I began reading numerous romance, horror, thriller, thick and thin novels. From James Hadley Chase to Rosemary’s Baby to raunchy Jackie Collins’, spooky Dean Koontzes’, cosmopolitan Sidney Sheldons’, Barbara Cartlands’, Pacesetters books, Denise Robbins and a gazillion other authors! At the university, weekends when my roommates travelled were godsends! I’d beg off social events, barricade myself in my room all weekend, ignore any knocks on the door and book-binge all weekend. It was an addiction, how could I wean myself? Enter Big Brother + AIESEC!
My elder brother Okwi who attended the University of Benin has always been extroverted and super-social! He always had the funniest friends telling the craziest stories peppered with mimicked accents, gestures and slangs from all over Nigeria. They were SO much fun to be around! One day they told me of an association called AIESEC where college students got to travel and intern all over the world. It was only in a few federal universities in Nigeria (including mine) so I needed no prompting. Once school resumed, I searched for its leaders on campus, applied, attended the interviews and was accepted for membership! Thanks to my strict upbringing and insecurity in Nigeria, I didn’t travel as much as I wanted yet I had great experiences and made new friends. AIESEC is an AMAZING association for college kids to join because it gives exposure to professional development, global networking, academic excellence, cultural awareness while growing business skills. I wish I had been able to attend an international exchange internship (Poland, Egypt or Russia). On campus, I contested and won the position of Chapter Vice President, Human Resources & Corporate Development. I took two unforgettable trips in my VP role. To Jos (Plateau State) and Côte d’Ivoire.
My first out-of-state trip was as a chapter delegate to AIESEC Nigeria’s annual National Congress hosted in my ex-dream city Jos in northern/middle-belt Nigeria. I’d dreamt of visiting Jos since I was a little girl so I just HAD to seize this opportunity. Carpe diem!
Delegates from University of Nigeria’s Enugu Campus traveled to our Nsukka campus, spent a night and set out the next morning for Jos. It was a full busload of about 40 intelligent, lively, adventurous University of Nigeria Nsukka students.
Amidst rib-cracking jokes, stories, shared snacks, banter and pranks played on snoring sleepers, we traversed through various quaint little villages, states and stopovers (Lokoja in Kogi State and Palm Garden Hotel in Makurdi Benue State) until we arrived at Lomay International, by Bukuru Bypass that night. That was my 1st long-distance trip in my life and a turning point.
This trip and other AIESEC-related trips “sealed the travelbug in me”. I also attended the West African Leadership Delegates Seminar in Douakro, Côte d’Ivoire. We left from UNILAG at 9pm, drove in a cross-country convoy from Lagos through the Republic of Benin 🇧🇯 , Togo 🇹🇬 and into Ghana 🇬🇭 where we spent a night before moving on to Ivory Coast 🇨🇮 . That was unforgettable and helped facilitate my first USA 🇺🇸 trip.
99% of AIESECers are definitely the most fun, creative, interesting, clever and adventurous individuals you’ll ever meet. In grad school in Illinois, I attended some AIESEC gatherings, met more AIESECers and can assuredly say that if AIESECers rule the world the world would be a happier, fabulously peaceful & non-racist place.
When I moved to Seattle for work, I found more of us and confirmed that indeed all true AIESEC members share the same core qualities, including a passion for travel.
Suffice it to say, my 2nd greatest influence was joining the world’s largest student-run organization – AIESEC.
Here’s a YT video!
Shoutout to notable AIESECers I remember (esp those with funny AIESEC names😂): “Pure Water”, Nneka Nwajiaku Otogbolu (Traffic Warden), Ngozi Ohalete (Cowbell), Ndidiamaka Anikpo, Modibbo Imam, Femi Longe (Longman), Uzo Nwagwu, Adaobi Ifebunandu (I na-achi) Ngozi Ifebunandu (LastBorn), Kené Umeasiegbu (Aristotle), “Jumping Chicken”, Tersoo Bossua (PalmGarden), Amechi Anakwenze (Ogogoro), Kingsley Utande Akpanke (Ninja Turtle), @r Bobbi, Chijioke Uwaegbute (Uwaga), George Gom, Mustapha Gom, @r “RAVE” Ehi Oviawe, Saweda Liverpool, Tako Modele, Labaka Quadri, Great Ibadan/Ife delegates: Bukky Alamu, Tomi (the actress), Sodium (the womaniser 😀 ), Isaac Okanlawon, Banky the photographer; UNIPORT’s Chinedugirl, Ejiro Otiotio, LCP Okey, Diepriye Josiah etc. ❤️ Not all LCs bestowed AIESEC names on their members but UNN/UNEC excelled at that. It was so fun brainstorming and voting for random names at the Matrixes! 😂
Shoutout to notable AIESECERs on the Cote d’Ivoire trip: Saratu Umar my roomie, Lisa (now Lisa Chukwuike), Moise Kouadio, Doris (my Legon University hostess AIESEC Ghana), the Bropleh twins from Liberia (Bior Bropleh and Bobby Bropleh), Ausra from Lithuania, Jean-Claude Wognin (PWC, Abidjan), Morris Wolff (AIESEC Exec, United Nations) and so many others! ❤️
Shout out to UIUC AIESECers: Anjali Thakrar, Cynthia Wong, Caleb Ganzer, Dhruv Gupta, Go Katayama, Nadiah Affendi, Ingo Wiegand, Ashok Vishwanath, Ovi Hentea and more. I truly wish I hadn’t been so swamped with grad school and work on campus etc. Wonderful people! ❤️