Jessica Onwenu


There’s always a person or an event in life that either makes or breaks you. Reflecting upon the many different encounters I’ve had throughout my life, I remember my trip to Africa. I traveled to Abuja, Nigeria, leaving everything behind, to meet the other side of my family. When you think about it traveling to another country can be quite terrifying, but my visit was actually rewarding.

When the plane landed, my family and I took the “okada,” which is what Nigerians call their motorcycle system and took a ride around the city. We went to the market place, parks, and saw beautiful big churches and buildings. After that, we rode from the city to get to the village, where my grandmother stayed. When we arrived at her compound, I saw my grandmother, and I felt an instant connection with her because when she smiled I noticed she has the same gap that I have. “M nwa nwaanyi mara mma,” is what she said to me, which means my beautiful daughter, in Igbo. She then gave me a kiss, blessed me and then welcomed me into her home. I stayed in Nigeria for a month and when I came back to the United States, I honestly wanted to go back.

By me being in a place with things that I’m not used to, I learned how to appreciate the things that I have, such as my family and my heritage. I also learned how to look outside of the box and become open and willing to try new things. For me, college is going to be a new great experience that I plan to take advantage of. I’ll continue to open myself up, because if I don’t then I’ll miss out on much bigger and better things.