Home>“I gained an openness to other cultures": Meet Ofure Emmanuel Elomien

22.02.2022

“I gained an openness to other cultures": Meet Ofure Emmanuel Elomien

Ofure Emmanuel Elomien, student from Nigeria (credits: Ofure Emmanuel Elomien)

Student Ofure Elomien from Nigeria studied for sixth months on the Sciences Po Paris campus in the context of an academic exchange. In this written account, he describes his experience—formative and inspirational—between a newfound openness to new cultures and awareness of the key issues of the African continent.

An International Experience at Sciences Po

"As a young boy growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I always wondered why the African continent was different from every other continent in terms of human, social and infrastructural development. I sometimes even imagined if something was fundamentally wrong with the “black race” or whether the “black race” was under some sort of spell or a curse. In an attempt to find answers to these questions, I promised myself to one day embark on an observatory study of the interconnectedness of race, culture and development. It was therefore a dream come true when the opportunity to come to France for an Exchange Programme on the Sciences Po Paris campus, came calling. 

My journey to France happened to be my first international travel experience. Hence, my expectations were quite high, as I was looking forward to experiencing in reality the European Society I had watched on TV and read on the pages of books while growing up as a young boy in Nigeria. Similarly, before coming to Sciences Po, I had read about the university being “the Harvard of France” and about the numerous Statesmen and Diplomats including some of France’s past presidents who had studied in Sciences Po. So, the expectations were quite high.

Today, looking back at my time in Sciences Po, I can say that the experience was mindshifting for me, not just because of the preeminent position Sciences Po occupies as the leading institution of learning in the field of Social Sciences, but also because it afforded me the opportunity to interact with different people from different parts of the world and learn from them.

Offsetting the “Butterfly Effect” of Mismanagement

The studies at Sciences Po were intellectually stimulating and rewarding. I particularly found the pedagogical style interesting; especially the specialised workshops and seminars where leading personalities from the industries were invited to give lectures. In one of such sessions, an invited guest while delivering his lecture, talked about what he called the “Butterfly Effect'' and its impact in the Afghan crisis. In summary, the “Butterfly Effect” is about how the (mis)management of an event can lead to a chain of other events.

“The Butterfly Effect” was a major takeaway for me, as it brings to bear the importance of addressing social issues from an intersectional perspective. The interactions between the lecturers and the students were such that made learning worthwhile.  In other words, the rigorous, but liberal approach to teaching made each lecture time an experience to look forward to.

“An Avenue for Personal Growth”

The frequent workshops/seminars organised by Sciences Po served as an avenue for personal growth and development for me. For example, a Seminar presentation by Brad Smith, the President and Vice-Chairman of Microsoft Corporation on “Cyber Diplomacy: Critical Challenges in Cybersecurity and Digital Sovereignty” to the students of Sciences Po, Paris, opened me up to a vista of some of the burning contemporary issues, such as development, migration, cyber security, security and conflict, and the need for pragmatic management/prevention of conflict. Through the lens of his presentation, I saw how diplomacy, security, development and policy intersect to ensure peace, stability and sustainable development at the local, national, continental and global level.

The presentation brought me to the consciousness that there cannot be global security without continental security, there cannot be continental security, without secured countries, there cannot be secured countries without secured communities, and no secured communities without the security of individual community members. A further meditation on Brad’s Smith presentation left me with a renewed drive in my quest to make a positive impact in my country Nigeria and in the world at large through endeavours that create an environment for people to become the best version of themselves. The approach is to focus on one community at a time. As Nelson Mandela once remarked "Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish.''

On Gaining New Perspectives (and Lifelong Friends)

In addition, the exchange programme afforded me the opportunity to gain an international experience and learn from the culture of both the locals and people from other parts of the world. Culturally, I was able to learn different cultural dynamics which has helped me to become more accommodating and receptive to people from diverse cultural backgrounds and viewpoints. My student exchange at Sciences Po made me realize how important it is for one not just to be bilingual, but to be multilingual especially if one aspires to internationalize one's career and social reach.

The large concentration of international students from different countries within the Campus of Sciences Po, Paris, and Cité internationale universitaire de Paris, my place of residence, thus, afforded me a platform for rich inter-cultural exchanges. For instance, in my French Class, we had students from about ten different countries. The small number of students in the class meant that we were able to really bond and share memorable times together both within and outside the four walls of the campus.

The diverse cultural, educational, and social background of the student community did not only have a significant impact on my observational study of the interconnectedness of race, culture and development, it also enabled me to build lifelong friendships, as well as enhanced my social capital and professional outlook.

In all, although, I can’t claim that my student exchange study in France has given me all the experience to solve all of Africa’s problems. However, I am committed to putting the knowledge and experiences gained from the Exchange Programme into building an African society the next generation will be proud to call home.  This I hope to do by maximising opportunities and platforms that advances the African developmental narratives one step at a time."

The Sciences Po Editorial Team

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