Fabiyi Olwasegun is a young man from Nigeria. He read English Language at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. But his interest in teaching has taken him to America where he currently teaches Yoruba as a Fulbright Fellow. Here is his chat with Rasheed Adebiyi.
Tekedia: Could you tell us about yourself?
Fabiyi Oluwasegun: First and foremost, let me thank you for the privilege to be on this interview. My name is Fabiyi Oluwasegun Michael. I am from Kwara State, Nigeria. I studied English language at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University in 2018. I love three things mostly: the word of God, playing soccer and teaching. I am a product of the renowned Pepsi football academy in Nigeria. When I am not playing football, I teach Cambridge A. Levels examination for English and Literature or TOEFL, TEFL, PTE, IELTS and GRE (Verbal section). Recently, Yoruba language joined the list of courses I teach. I am currently a Fulbright fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where I teach Yoruba Language and Culture to the American community.
Tekedia: Tell us about your Fulbright Fellowship story
Fabiyi Oluwasegun: The first time I heard of Fulbright scholarship was in 2015 at the University. About three of my lecturers were Fulbright fellows. I never thought of applying for it in the future because those lecturers were brilliant so I believed Fulbright was indeed for the bright people and I was not in their category. However, I got close to one of them who really loved me so much to advise me to apply to scholarships including Fulbright. I was not interested in Fulbright but applied for a PhD program at a university in Texas in 2018 which was not successful. I went for my National Youth Corps Service in 2018 in Katsina state and it was there I got the inspiration to apply for Fulbright having failed in my “Texas” application. I called my lecturer back who mentored and introduced me to other recent Fulbrighters. They guided me through the whole process from the essays to the interview in Lagos even to the TOEFL preparation. The rest is history. My Fulbright scholarship entails being a Nigerian cultural ambassador teaching Yoruba language. There is also the opportunity to teach Hausa language.
Tekedia: You studied English Language in Nigeria and you are teaching Yoruba in America. How did this happen? How easy has it been to switch or combine the two languages especially for teaching?
Fabiyi Oluwasegun: The Fulbright scholarship is called Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship (FLTA). I studied English at the university but I am a Yoruba Nigerian. I am a native of Kwara State in Nigeria and I have lived in Ibadan, Ilorin and Lagos states among others. I love Yoruba language so much. I did a Yoruba course as one of my electives in OAU, Ile-Ife. Above all, my undergraduate university is situated in Ile-Ife, Osun state which is the source of humanity and a peculiar headquarters of the Yoruba land. It has been very easy to code switch and code mix because Yoruba is also a versatile and dynamic language like English. It usually sounds sweet when a bit of English is mixed with Yoruba. This is also a key teaching methodology in the US because I encourage the students to mix the English language with Yoruba. Most times, they produce a kind of “Americanized Yoruba”
Tekedia: Since you have been on the fellowship, what have you missed about Nigeria?
Fabiyi Oluwasegun: I have missed the food. Since I have gotten here, I have only been eating American food. It is a pity that some of my food items were not allowed in Atlanta when I came here. I miss the sight of Lagos too. I miss the brown roofs of Ibadan and the fights of drivers in traffic. I miss the Lagos conductors shouting at passengers for “change”. I miss the shouts of neighbours shouting “Up Nepa” and I miss the arguments of Nigerians at Newspaper spots.
Tekedia: What is your advice for youths looking for opportunities to travel abroad?
Fabiyi Oluwasegun: First and foremost, put God at the forefront of your travel dreams. Never give up on your valid dreams. Try to get information about what you want and go for it. Getting out of Nigeria is not just about you going anywhere; be conversant about things you need to do to get them materialised. If you are interested in getting scholarships and you are still in school, work hard on your grades. Forget whether you are in a Nigerian federal school and it is hard to get good grades. Please, get it. Most importantly, never underestimate what people can do for you. Try to be good to everyone you meet on the path of life. Everyone needs help!
Tekedia : Thank you for your time
Fabiyi Oluwasegun: You are welcome.