Global Citizen of the Week: Sunday Mahaja, Nigeria

Sunday Mahaja came to the U.S. in December 2010 when he enrolled at Goshen College as a first-year student.  At GC, he studies art, plays basketball and is involved with the Art Club.

Facts about Nigeria:

–          Capital City: Abuja

–          Official Language: English, although there are more than 500 indigenous languages

–          Size: 356,669 square miles, slightly more than twice the size of California

–          Cost of round trip (from Chicago): $1,300

Nigeria is the most populated African country

The country is home to more than 250 ethnic groups

Information was taken from CIA’s World Factbook.

1. What do you miss the most about Nigeria (besides family):


I miss the food the most and the fact that I didn’t have to cook. The joy of someone making food for you is different than the joy of making your own food. The taste and variety of the food we eat is also different. We make our rice differently, and we eat a lot of goat meat.

2. What do you like and dislike about America:

I like the fact that people here appreciate a lot more things than other places. There is always a population that will notice the work you are doing. The talent never goes wasted.

One thing I don’t like is that people are not very hospitable. Most of the time, they only care about themselves. In Nigeria, people look after each other a lot more.

3. What is your favorite childhood experience:

One of my best experiences was playing the role of Joseph in a Christmas theater performance in my high school. I did it once and everyone though I was the perfect Joseph. After that, every year the school called me and asked me if I could fulfill his role in the Christmas theater act.

4. What did you think about America before coming here:

I thought it was the land of opportunity and that people can be who they want to be. As for myself, I’m still in the process of achieving the American dream.

5. What inspired you to come here:

Sports, specifically basketball, inspired me to come here.

6. What is the difference between the American and Nigerian cultures:

There are a lot of differences. For instance, people in Nigeria are more respectful than here and the way you address and approach people is different. One form of respect is that you don’t call a person by his/her name. Whoever has a title, the title has to go before their name, regardless of the age.

7. What does a typical day look like for you in Nigeria:

In high school, I usually got up by six in the morning and waited for the school bus till around seven. School started at eight and went until three in the afternoon. After school, I would usually take the bus back home and do homework, if I had any. After my schoolwork was done, I would play soccer in the evening and be back home for dinner, between six and eight. I usually went to bed around 9 p.m.