Hi there! So if you’ve read my other blogs (thanks mom!), today’s going to be a lot different. I’ve used it to process a really powerful experience that I just had, and that’s changed my life. It’s a little long, and doesn’t have any pictures, but please bear with me; I’m really excited to share this with you!!!
In the Nigerian culture, there are only three careers that are deemed “honorable” by the overall society: medicine, law, and engineering. So growing up with these pressures there were three ways I could’ve reacted. Either I could’ve indifferently agreed to follow in my dad’s footsteps because it was the “right” thing to do (also I knew I didn’t want to become a lawyer or an engineer), I could’ve somehow fallen in love with medicine and decided to become a doctor for reasons other than that was what I was “supposed to do”, or I could’ve run away altogether from this future that everyone predicted for me. I knew that I wanted to travel and to help people, so as a child, I decided that becoming a doctor seemed to be the only way I could accomplish that dream.
As I got older, I did tons of research on the different medical fields, shadowed actual doctors, and volunteered in the Trauma Resuscitation Unit of the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. However, I still lacked that passion and love of medicine that I yearned for; I still didn’t know if being a doctor was right for me.
So during the summer after my freshman year at Hopkins, I decided that instead of doing a medicine focused internship, I would participate in the Baltimore Urban Program. For six weeks I lived in the Mount Clare neighborhood with twelve other participants, in a row-house. Together we experienced what intentional living in an urban community was like, which sparked a clearer image of what I want to do as a medical doctor. The internship included a day camp, where there were nine adults (five of us were councilors), and 35 kids. In my short month with my six kids, I learned about their likes and dislikes, and their physical and mental health, fueling a passion in eventually expanding my focus on the health of kids in urban communities.
I came back to Hopkins last semester with a renewed image of what I wanted to do, and that image included medicine but also incarnational living, which is living among the people I would be ministering to. I was so excited for this future but sought to figure out more of this picture, and then outline the steps that would lead me there.
It wasn’t until Urbana, did I feel like I fully knew what I wanted to spend my life doing.
Urbana is the largest student missions conference in the world, with 16,000 other college aged participants in St. Louis, MO. For five days we were introduced to people and organizations committed to making a positive difference in the world, as we discerned how our own education and skills fit current needs present in the world. At Urbana, I found so many opportunities to apply my passions of wanting to experience other cultures and healthcare systems with the needs of better healthcare in unreached populations. I felt that my dream as a child who could only give hugs to my “patients” (other kids who had fallen down or wore the battle scars of recess) had finally matured into this practical and fulfilling vision: one day I hope to live in communities of unreached populations, working with the community members to improve the overall healthcare of the community, while experiencing and learning from the people and their culture.
Not only did Urbana help me understand more vividly, what exactly I was feeling God calling me to do with my life, but it was also the first time I felt “seen” in a long time.
The organizers of Urbana dedicated a lot of time and effort to identify, celebrate, and honor the diversity of the people and cultures of the world. They did not sugercoat the pain and injustices that were deep-rooted in the histories of these people groups. Together, the 16,000 of us lamented with our Muslim brothers and sisters around the world who faced persecution for the acts of the extremist sects of their religion, danced in worship with our Pacific Islander brothers and sisters who shared their beautiful and painful history with us, and cried out songs of courage and resilience with our Hispanic brothers and sisters.
As a black Nigerian immigrant woman, I felt intentionally seen, heard, and loved in a way that I had never experienced before. This incredible experience fueled a brilliant passion in me to dedicate my life and my work to intentionally seeing, hearing and loving people the world and society seems to have forgotten. My interest in medicine had finally gained the passion that I was looking for. The fears of inadequacy and lack of direction that I encountered while discerning if the medical field was for me had actually become some of the most important parts of why I want to be a doctor today. I used to see medicine as this solitary field in which those who practice it have this distanced and tightly limited relationship with the people they have the honor of serving. Now I see medicine as an amazing way of connecting with people, and as an opportunity to intentionally see, hear, and love people, by sharing the gift of health with them. Today I am a Behavioral Biology and Spanish double major, and am incredibly happy and excited for my future in medicine. I am looking forward to a future in global health in which I can travel around the world, living in unreached communities, working with community members to improve the healthcare systems present in their communities, and learning from the different cultures.
I invite you to go to Urbana.org to watch most of the general sessions, and check out the awesome seminars! I’m so excited for those attending Urbana18!!