I wondered what it would be like to be a Nigerian in the U.S. ever since I heard that I would be participating in the ICFJ exchange program, which is also sponsored by the bureau of education and cultural affair
The first thing that came my mind was: Are they trying to gather information about our country through the program? How can I ever cope with white people? Will they be friendly, nice? Or will they talk to me about security issues in the northern part of Nigeria? These were some of the questions that came to mind when I thought about this journey.
I was the first to arrive a the airport in Washington, D.C. Sameen Dadfar, of the ICFJ, was there to greet me with a smile. She says “Welcome Baraka.” “She recognized me,” I said to myself and I smiled back. Soon the rest of the participants showed up. The Quincy hotel became our new home for the rest of the four days of orientation.
During our orientation, a facilitator cautioned that Portland, Oregon is a bit cold. This is where I’m headed. This Northern Nigerian packed her African clothes and a little pair of the English clothing and headed off to Portland.
Michael Clapp met me at the airport in Portland., To my surprise, he had gotten a prayer rug for me, in case I forgot mine. “How kind of him,” I think. “It will be good in here,” I say to myself.
Driving to my new home I notice lots of trees on the way. Since I’m an environmental reporter, I know the trees protect the environment. I feel safe.
The first day at the office is good. The first thing I see on the white board is “Welcome Baraka.” At the morning editorial meeting, I’m asked to introduce myself, before the daily news discussion begins. Although I’m shy, I’m able to gather all my confidence to do that.
Everybody is nice to me. People come to my desk and say “Hi, I am David, I report on environment here. Nice meeting you.” On and on they come, and introduce themselves to me. I relax a little. Things are good.
My first assignment was with the Think Out Loud crew. They are doing a show about the Imago Dei Community. The talk show host interviews a writer on religion, Tom Krattenmaker about his latest book, “The Evangelicals You Don’t Know.”
After that, I get to chat with the environmental team. This is what I’ve wanted to do since I arrived the newsroom. I have lots of questions on my mind: what are their environmental challenges? Are they similar to our own problems in Nigeria?
There is about how to save the aquatic life, and many more, no erosions neither is there flooding, what a world.
Over the weekend, I go to an apple tasting festival. The festival has continued for 26 years in Portland. Then, I visit Saturday Market. It’s a city market in Portland that runs every weekend of the year from the month of March through Christmas Eve. The market features local goods, including handmade crafts, art and paintings. It has a long line of carts and stalls where people showcase their wares for people to buy.
The colorful carts have different goods that draw the attention of shoppers. I come closer to get a better look at the items displayed.
In one of the cards, there’s a popular “spoon man.” He makes different things with all kinds of cutlery, from frames, to glasses, and even a clock.
Shoppers I talked with said the spoon man has been in the market for a long time, and that he always creates interesting work.
A woman who sells kids’ cloths says she has been operating in the market for about ten years or so. She says that whenever she misses a market day, that she’s not fulfilling her obligations. She says that she pays for her spot through the rent system
The market ends at the waterfront. A man who was painted from head to toe stands still, entertaining the passersby.
An interesting part of my sightseeing of the Saturday market was at the north of the waterfront where I saw the place where the Japanese the history were left on plaque