I completed my one-year mandatory service to my country! From the orientation camp to my place of primary assignment, my NYSC experience was filled with a mix of emotions; excitement, curiosity, and distaste to name a few.
The National Youth Service Corps is a one-year program organized by the Nigerian Government to involve Nigerian graduates from all over the world in nation building and development. Whether your studies were completed abroad or at home, if you are Nigerian and plan to work in the country someday, NYSC is a required rite of passage.
As much as I would love to detail my experience, I know that would be a bit too much reading *chuckles*. So, here is the short and sweet version.
LIFE IN OKITIPUPA, ONDO-STATE
Have you ever been to a place that left you astonished by the cheap standard of living (relative to where you live)? Just imagine being someone who does not shy away from the good things life has to offer regardless of price, but now you find yourself surrounded by your favorite commodities at next to nothing prices.
I think that’s the best feeling in the world!
Okitipupa, a town on the south-western part of Ondo-State, is such a place; where fishes long to be bought, peppers and tomatoes are art managed by curators, dialect does not show respect to the elderly, palm oil smells like fresh coconut oil and different people with different languages call it home. In short, it is a remarkable place.
However, coming to Okitipupa (popularly called O’pa) was not an easy decision. I had hoped to be assigned to a city like Abuja or Calabar and my first month in O’pa seemed to prove that my misgivings about smaller towns were right. NYSC did me bad! (cries solemnly). I was horrified by the lack of electricity. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has failed to provide the town with electricity for the past eight years or thereabout, so the locals thrive on different types of generators and solar panels.
As you can imagine, the efforts by the locals means electricity is provided on a type of schedule. The heat was killing me and I couldn’t charge my appliances when I wanted to; If I didn’t charge my phone and power bank at a family house then I was screwed for that day. I had to take my matters into my own hands! I bought a generator, rechargeable fan, and other appliances which significantly improved my situation. Even at that, I got sick a couple of times, had to go to several hospitals, worried my mom enough she had to come stay with me for a while and eventually, I HAD TO GO HOME!
Fast forward to the new year, 2020. I had adapted to the living condition.
I would often get free foodstuff (love it!) when I go to the market, I enjoyed interacting with the locals, my landlord’s family seemed more accommodating, I had a sweet neighbor. Simply put, the Ruth that started off with misgivings has left the chat.
NYSC EXPERIENCE IN OSUSTECH
I served in Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH) as a Laboratory assistant. I remember looking quite lost as I walked into the University to get my NYSC acceptance letter signed. Little did I know that it takes a week or two for the completion of this process unlike my colleagues assigned to secondary schools who got theirs done in one or two days. I had to go from the Chemical Science department to the Dean, Human Resources, Registrar, then finally to the Vice Chancellor. Thankfully, grace located me and I finished up in 2 days!!! A miracle.
During my time at OSUSTECH, three moments stood out to me aside from doing my job.
- I met a man, an assistant lecturer, haha! He had a pretty young face and was super sweet. My duty was to help him grade lab reports he left ungraded since the beginning of the semester. Imagine grading 200+ lab reports with each lab notebook containing 8 ungraded reports. That’s equivalent to grading 1600+ reports. Due to the amount of work, we got pretty close and I would be in his office for longer periods of time. Feelings started to develop, and I was like RUTHHHHH, not today (or ever) because he is a married man. A few weeks later, he expressed his so-called love which I think was lust. However, we remained good friends instead and I would make sure to ask about his wife. This experience taught me that ladies should never get entangled with married men because at the end of the day, they most likely won’t leave their wives for you baby (more importantly you don’t want to be a home-wrecker)! So, wise up!!!
- I got gifts (dancing as I type). My bosses are the loveliest (I am sure one of them is reading this at the moment). They would gift me food items, home items, and monetary packets. Their love and support stopped my thoughts of relocating to Abuja; they were so nice and I felt I would have betrayed their love if I relocated. Shout out to Mr. Ibitoye, Mrs. Komolafe, Mrs. Yasere, Mrs. Otekaye, Mr. Adebayo, and Mrs. Folorunso. I love you mas and sirs.
- I got two speaking gigs!!! I know you are wondering what they were about. I was at my desk when the president of the Chemistry Club called me to come speak to his members ASAP. My brain went blank, I felt dizzy and shaky, I didn’t have time to plan (loud scream). When I got to their midst, I was like “can you give me some minutes please, I need to get myself together.” After a minute of silence, I got my train of thoughts back, shared my study abroad experience and answered their questions. Those were fun times…unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the second speaking gig due to COVID-19. I was to talk on “Stigmatization Among HIV/AIDS Patients,” a topic I am passionate about.
Did I talk about my friends that made life in Okitipupa bearable? These guys would take me out, come to my apartment to spend quality time with me, take care of me when I got sick, and a lot more. Without them, my NYSC experience would have been so much more difficult. Much love to Dimeji, Son of Mercy, and Abolore, no girls, I know!
Like I mentioned earlier, talking about my overall NYSC experience will be too long to read as I met more sensational people, started two big projects, etc. I will talk about those in a later time.
Never in a million years would I have agreed to come to Okitipupa, but looking back, I would not trade the experiences I’ve had here for anything in the world.
What travel experience gave you terrifying chills initially?
How did you cope?
Did you later like the place?
Let’s chit-chat in the comment section below.
P.S.: THANKS FOR READING TO THIS POINT, I LOVE YOU!