Monday, April 29, 2013

Chiney Ogwumike Checkin' In: Summer In Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria - Lions are not roaming through the streets. My ride is not the back of an elephant. I'm not living in a hut. I am in Africa, studying abroad in the country of my mother and father, a country with so much primitive beauty, potential, promise; I am in Nigeria!

It's rare for student-athletes to travel far from campus during the off-season, especially after an unsatisfying end to their season. But, there is something about Stanford University that lets their students chase their dreams beyond their wildest imagination. I worked so hard this past year to be a consistent player for my team, which can be extremely taxing. But, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Basketball has provided so many opportunities for me, but this is one chapter I really didn't foresee.

When you get to college, the first thing they usually say is, "You may think you have things all figured out, but that will most likely change." Coming in, I knew I was going to be a communications major, but I fell in love with history, politics, and world affairs. Two years later I became an international relations major. A requirement for graduation for IR majors at Stanford is studying abroad...and here I am!

I am currently spending my spring quarter in Abuja, Nigeria! The first few weeks I have been a fly on the wall in the Ministry of Petroleum. If Nigeria had a heart, I'm pretty sure it would be pumping oil. Oil is an essential part of the Nigerian economy, and to see how the government works tirelessly to use this resource to propel the country is beyond intriguing! Hopeful entrepreneurs, military personnel, foreign representatives, and esteemed officials decorate the hallways of the 11-story ministry building. And I'm so proud to say that the head Minister of Petroleum is a strong, determined, intelligent woman by the name of the honorable Diezani Allison-Madueke. I actually had the opportunity to meet her when she came to San Francisco during the fall last year and am so lucky to have this opportunity today. And to top it all off, the next few weeks I will also get to witness the creation of new Nigerian laws and legislature by working with the Nigerian Congress and National Assembly. 

Beyond that, my personal goal during my free time in Nigeria is promoting sports, specifically basketball. Basketball is truly on the rise in this country. As an active member of USA Basketball teams, an experience I dearly cherish, USA Basketball will always be my number one priority (seeing that my life and countless opportunities took birth in the US). But, I was also excited to see Team Nigeria qualify for the London Olympics as well.

Even though I am far from a 'Skylar Diggins'-level of followers on twitter, a strong number of my 8,000 take pride in seeing someone of Nigerian descent succeed in women's basketball. I feel it is my duty as a person blessed with so much to give back while I am here. I hope to attend some of the Nigerian Premier Basketball League games, meet some of the players, and hear their take on the role of basketball in their lives and Africa. And as you may have read before, my last week in Nigeria I am also working with a charity called Access 2 Success and will travel to the city of Benin to run a basketball camp, spread my knowledge of the game, and motivate and inspire youth.

This is a really exciting time for me and I am so glad to have so many different people following my journey through my Twitter handle @Chiney321. We must all, "be the change that you wish to see in the world!"

Ball is life throughout the world!

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