N Y S C
These four letters stand for the National Youth Service Corps, a one-year program where Nigerian youths up to the age of 30 years who hold a higher education degree serve in schools, government, or other organizations in Nigeria. This program allows young Nigerian adults to serve their country and immediate community while also discovering a region of Nigeria they may otherwise never have encountered.
I will be a coppa (otherwise known as a youth corper) during the current 2015 Batch B. The program commences on Wednesday, October 28 with “camp”, a three-week orientation session that is essentially boot camp.
Although I have not officially started the program, I wanted to speak about my experience so far—preparing for NYSC while abroad, completing the “online” registration, and relocating to Nigeria.
For those of you who don’t know, I am currently in Abuja, Nigeria—where I landed on October 5th—typing this post one day to the start of my program. I had originally planned to arrive by the 17th, but had to come earlier to complete the online registration, which apparently can only be finalized in Nigeria, before the October 8th deadline. Let me backtrack a bit, to better explain what ended up being a convoluted process for me. I’ll start with my NYSC prep.
In order to prepare for NYSC I did my research. I spoke to numerous people who previously (or currently) served and who gave me lots of great advice and tips. In addition, I found some online resources from other foreign-trained coppers. After deciding that I wanted to take the plunge and embark on this one-year of service in Nigeria, I waited for the online registration to open. During the waiting period, I worked in order to have money for my preparation expenses and relocation to Nigeria. I also made sure I had the correct vaccinations and bought my uniform for camp. Essentially the dress code is all white er’ything: white tee shirt, shorts, socks, and shoes.
Once the online registration finally opened on September 8th, I filled out the application forms and uploaded my school records and nationality documentation. This time the application process was a bit different with prospective corpers having the ability to select their top three locations, which ultimately are awarded on a first come, first served basis. My top three choices were Abuja, Lagos, and Enugu in that order. Unfortunately, the biometrics portion of the registration, which was one of the last steps before online registration could be finalized, could not be processed abroad (and thus my need to rush back to Nigeria to complete the registration in-country before the deadline of October 8th).
You may remember that I mentioned having a job. It was near the end of September when I was informed of the registration hiccup, and at that time I had to weigh various options:
- Leave my job 2 weeks early and join the current NYSC batch
Work until the end of 2015 and try to catch the NYSC batch starting early next year Forget NYSC completely and keep working
After crossing out the last two options, I packed two suitcases, said many rushed goodbyes, and flew to Abuja where I’ve been for about three weeks now. A few days ago I received my “call up letter”, which essentially states where and when to report to camp. I have been posted to Enugu and will have to report to camp on Wednesday, October 28th.
I’m truly grateful to all of the people who helped make this a reality. And I’d like to give a special shoutout to my family and friends in Abuja who made my time in the city truly memorable. Their generosity, thoughtfulness, and selflessness truly exceeded my exceptions. I’m truly excited to start this program, despite the interesting things I’ve heard about camp. All of the resources I found were all swell, but I know that nothing can fully prepare me for all of the things I will encounter over the span of this year.
While there are many other Nigerian corpers who share a similar background, I haven’t encountered any foreign-trained Nigerian like me who has NEVER lived in Nigeria. Yes, I’ve vacationed, but we all know that isn’t the same thing….Thus, I plan to share my experiences as a “Yankee” coppa, and I hope the information I share blesses at least one person with a similar story who is considering serving.
A key takeaway I have so far is to be careful when singing songs like Hillsong’s ‘Oceans’ or ‘Nothing I Hold On To’, because God will take you seriously and will most definitely take you up on your word…lol. But in all seriousness, I’m excited to see where God is taking me next, and I rest assured in the belief that my destination will be beautiful. See you all on the other side of camp!!!