I AM BECAUSE YOU ARE
The thunderous jamming of the forehand, the palms against each other accompanied with screams of standing ovation in the one thousand fully air conditioned seating capacity auditorium, triggered the free flow of emotions rolling down as my eyes were already saturated. This day has always been the dream of the breadwinner of my family, to see me graduate with a First-Class in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, Akoka. His journey to the afterlife was an inevitable one. All through the euphoria at my graduation ceremony, I was dressed in an all-black suit, tucked in a fully stretched fitted snow-white shirt, knotted with red striped tie, cruising in a Range Rover sport, briefcase seated comfortably at the back, chattering and laughing with the love of my life over the phone. Stopped the car at the blink of a red light, the voice over space changed manly, shouting my name consecutively as I answered only to realize that I had been fantasizing about working in an oil company for NYSC. For my friends, Temi and Nike, they were less concerned about their placement for service, their parents had the influence that could open doors for them without the keys of an interview. But here I am, a young man with no connection to properly channel my steps into working for a company like Chevron. The saying “money answers all things” is not for someone who is still counting grains of rice at home.
It all burst out to tears and vexation of heart when I checked the NYSC placement letter sent to my mail. “Congratulations, Mr. Yinka Williams, you have successfully made it to the first batch, your NYSC details are… while your placement is at Ilorin, Kwara state. Report there latest by Monday 25th of February, 2019 with other necessary documents”. Oh! God, Ilorin!! Kwara state of all places. I have never journeyed farther from Lagos except to neighboring states like Ogun and Ibadan. After weeks of intense training at the camp that my bones are still yet to recover from , additional pain was instilled in me like a syringe piercing through my skin as my expectations were cut short when my primary place of assignment was assigned. Not again! To teach in a public school!! Ilorin Grammar School!!!! Finally, after touring the whole city of Ilorin, I secured a place at Sawmill, a five minutes’ drive with a cab or a thirty minutes’ walk thereabout to the school. Houses around here are quite affordable for an average man like me who is still starting life, unlike in Lagos that it will cost you nearly your annual savings to pay for house rent.
First day at Ilorin Grammar School (popularly known as I. G. S), the eye sockets of both teachers and students were plugged on my stainless cooperate outfit matched with a black suede loafers as I bounced towards the principal’s office as directed by a random student I asked earlier. “Good day, you must be Mr. Yinka Williams, the National Youth Service Corp member we have been expecting since last week”, he said. Yes sir, I am and good morning to you, sir. “It is a pleasure to have you here, you know… now, you will be taking only the senior secondary school students 3 subjects”. How do I cope, sir? “Do not worry, it is not much, I even thought about adding one more subjects like Further math but I think with you taking Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics you will make a good impact on our students. There are a lot of extracurricular activities our students are not doing here that is why we need more helping hands. I believe in you Mr. Yinka Williams, let me show you around…” my conversation with the principal left me speechless and even more devastated when I was introduced to the hundreds of students I will be teaching on a daily basis, 3 different subjects, sighed. The first three weeks as a teacher, all I was focused on was getting replies on my mail for all the job applications I applied for into the oil and gas firms’ home and abroad, hoping to redeploy but all to no avail. While the afternoon was still young on this Saturday, searching for one school documents in my bag, I came across this book I won at the campus fellowship I attended during my undergraduate days. I picked interest in, during my free periods at work, I continued reading it devotedly jotting some important points.
By the time I was done with the book, I was left with a question to answer, what if what I want to be will only come about when I ensure that others get to be that as well? I drew to a conclusion that my coming to Ilorin and working in a public school was for a reason. I could vividly remember I used to seek for the opportunity to make a positive impact, but I never knew it will be from here. I formed a team and we came up with plans to engage these students in their school works as well as other extracurricular activities by employing the efforts and skills of other experts. Three months later, the students of I. G. S represented Kwara state for a Mathematics competition at Abuja that they eventually won. Six months later, the students started Music lessons that was done every Wednesday and learning an entrepreneurial skill such as Fish farming, Make over and Photography were done on Fridays. Standing in front of you all to say these stories, it breaks my heart to announce today as my last day here as youth corp member and teacher. To my wonderful students, ever cooperating teachers and the supportive school management of I. G. S, I really appreciate this sendoff party and the good news is that I got a job from one of the applications I sent months ago.