Today’s interview is with my high school school mate and fellow TCK Josephine Otuagomah and she uses her difference to make a difference by sharing the world you don’t see on tv!
She was born in London, UK and spent the first 10 years of her life growing up around south London. When she was 10 years old her parents decided to move to a tiny country in West Africa known as Togo. Moving to Togo was perhaps the biggest culture shock of her life.
Initially she was told by her parents that they were going on “holiday” – but when she got there her parents told her that she was actually going to be living there. Ouch! Togo was much different to what she had expected it to be; The only images of “Africa” she had seen thus far were of famished children in charity appeals suffering from diseases and malnutrition. Togo wasn’t like that. Of course there were poor people but that wasn’t all there was to it. There were beautiful sandy beaches, cheerful people, bumpy roads and a very polite environment. She attended the International School of Lomé and had tutoring lessons at home to make her fluent in French.
Aged 12 her family and she moved back to the UK to a new city this time called Milton Keynes. Moving back was a dream come true because she really missed life in the UK- even though they travelled back every holiday.
Growing up as a teen in Milton Keynes was very integral to her global identity. She was not in an international school with diverse cultures and languages anymore, she got the bus like other kids her age and hung out at the mall on weekends but knew her experiences set her apart. One thing she clung onto was her sense of globalization and awareness of a bigger world. She was very quick to correct misconceptions of “Africa” and very vocal about her experiences in Togo. With a new language under her belt she stuck out as different.
After 2 years in Milton Keynes, her family decided to go on another “holiday” to Togo and again she ended up moving out of the UK! This time she moved to Nigeria- her second culture. Although her parents are from Nigeria and she grew up with Yoruba as her second language; there were a lot of things that she didn’t know about Nigerian cultures.
She attended another international school with many second generation Nigerians like herself, from all over the world. This is where we met and this was her first experience with boarding school. During this period she became very independent and again found herself correcting a lot of misconceptions she had about “Africa”. She also began to develop political awareness that would later become her passion at university.
I hope you enjoy this interview as we dive into ways we both came to embrace our global identities and become educators plus you get to see a glimpse of what I was like in High School. Enjoy the interview here or below.
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