Mahfouz A. Adedimeji, PhD
Everyone has heard the saying that when life throws lemons at you, make lemonade; and if all you have is LIMES, re-arrange the letters and get SMILES. Indeed, part of the secret of enjoying peace of mind is that you can always change your situation by changing the way you think about it.
There is no doubt that this period is agonising for hundreds of thousands of Nigerian students whose lives continue to hang in the balance as a result of the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). But as unfortunate as the situation may be, the right disposition is to presume that every disappointment is a blessing and every cloud has a silver lining. What does worry bring beyond worry anyway?
For students whose plans have been truncated, the words of Friedrich Nietzsche hold promise: “what doesn’t kill you makes you strong.” It is possible to snatch success from the jaws of this challenge by using the abundant time at your disposal productively in activities that add value to life and society. Eight of those activities are as follows:
1. Learn more skills: We live in an age where demonstrable skills are gaining more premium than paper qualifications. There are many soft skills that students can learn during this long interregnum such as online marketing, website designing, graphic design/artistry, video editing, app development, coding and whatnot. The hard skills are also there in abundance to learn.
2. Read good books: Due to the limited time available to students while on campus, there are many empowering books that they often do not read. Reading good books adds to the quality of life that one lives. The strike period is an ample opportunity to read beyond the academic curriculum and widen your horizons so that you will emerge as a complete person who knows something about everything and everything about something.
3. Be a volunteer: Volunteering is about contributing to good causes without expecting financial gains or rewards. At the mosque, the church and the community at large, there are many activities that students can engage in to make impact. Joining Non- Governmental Organisations on executing their projects is also a fantastic way of serving the society, which is part of the ultimate aim of education. The beauty of volunteering is that when you choose to wash someone else’s clothes, your own hands also become clean in the process.
4. Write a book: Everyone has a book in their head but the difference between authors and non-authors is discipline. In a situation where there are no serious assignments to do and submissions to make, a commitment to free writing and regular writing will make anyone cover good grounds. Definitely, adding ‘author’ to a student’s profile gives him or her a step ahead, regardless of the discipline.
5. Take online courses: There are more learning opportunities and resources today than ever before. Many of these courses are even free and what they only require is the time devoted to them. When you identify where your interest lies, there is a possibility that someone somewhere online is providing capacity development in the area.
6. Get a job: Despite the unemployment challenge in Nigeria, people still get jobs. You can prepare your CV and approach employers of labour for small-time jobs to fill the gap. It is not the money that matters buy having job experience which will eventually brighten your career opportunities in future. Whether physical or virtual, you can always find something to do, like joining a team preparing candidates for examination success or teaching in a school.
7. Start a business: Businesses are not just meant for millionaires and everyone can start from somewhere. From purchasing products in bulk and selling them online to selling recharge vouchers, what is important is to create or procure products that people need, including food. If money is not available at all, you can render services like house cleaning, vehicle washing, carpet cleaning, food delivery and graffiti clearing. Just do something positive that fetches money.
8. Engage in sports: Rather than sit down all day watching TV or pressing buttons on the cell phone, you can engage in sports by playing soccer, table tennis, badminton or learning to swim. As it is said, exercise is crucial and you have to create time to take care of your physical body. If lectures from morning till evening, including weekends, did not allow you to do that before the strike, this is an ample time.
It won’t be surprising to find some students who have not done anything tangible since February while waiting for the strike to be called off. This is not desirable. They can still make hay and start something now.
Professor Adedimeji is the Vice Chancellor of Ahman Pategi University, Patigi, Nigeria