Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Efosa Austin Osayamwen, February 23, 2014

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Growing up in Benin City--Primary school and family

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I'm Jack Wilson interviewing, uh, Efosa Austin Osayamwen, uh, I'm probably not pronouncing that right. I'll let him repeat it.

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen explains the meaning of his last name. He describes the role of Benin City as big, and multicultural with 30 different languages. He speaks Bini. He describes primary school, and his nuclear and extended family.

Keywords: Benin City (Nigeria); Edo State (Nigeria)

Subjects: Education; Families.; Nigeria

GPS: Benin City, Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 6.333333, 5.622222
GPS: Edo State, Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 6.5, 6
00:07:02 - Common entrance exam and secondary school

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, I believe you said you did your secondary school in Benin as well?

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen describes how the common entrance exam to get into secondary school works, and first, second, and third choices. He got his first choice. He then explains how the West African exam and Joint Admission and Matriculation exam for entrance into university work. He talks about his own experience in those exams.

Keywords: Common entrance exams; Joint Admission and Matriculation (JAM); West African Examination Council

Subjects: Education; Nigeria

GPS: Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 8, 10
00:15:07 - University and National Youth Service Corps

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Partial Transcript: And you went--then you went to university.

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen went to the University of Edo State and studied public administration. He graduated in 2004 and then was home for a year. Like other college graduates he served in the National Youth Service Corps for a year, teaching in Gombe State in the far north. He describes in detail how the National Youth Service Corps works.

Keywords: Edo University, Iyamho; Goals; Gombe State; National Youth Service Corps; University of Edo State

Subjects: College graduates; College students.; Teachers; Universities and colleges.

GPS: Edo University, Iyamho
Map Coordinates: 7.2192609, 6.3321619
GPS: Gombe State
Map Coordinates: 10.25, 11.166667
00:20:20 - Getting a job

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Partial Transcript: So 2007 I couldn't find a job.

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen describes the difficulty of finding a job in his field. He went into business with his mother buying and selling. But that was not successful either.

Keywords: International businesses; Jobs

Subjects: Employment; Occupations

00:22:02 - Coming to the U.S. for graduate work

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Partial Transcript: And is that what brought you to the United States?

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen came to Baylor University in the U.S. to get an MBA so he could go back and help his mother's business. After a semester he came to Kentucky and did a semester at the community college before a semester at the University of Kentucky. He then had to drop out because his Nigerian family could not continue to sponsor him. He explains the advantage of U.S. degrees.

Keywords: Advantages of U.S. degree; Bluegrass Community and Technical College; Graduate schools; School fees

Subjects: College costs.; College students.; Universities and colleges.

GPS: Baylor University
Map Coordinates: 31.548611, -97.116667
GPS: Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 37.5, -85
GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
00:26:45 - Impressions of U.S. and acculturation

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Partial Transcript: When, uh, when you first came to the U.S., uh, do, do, do you remember w, whether--what ways the U.S. was like you thought it would be?

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen talks about the most difficult adjustment -- cold weather; and the easiest -- human relationships. Americans are direct and they don't get into others' business. He loves American food, such as biscuits and gravy and broccoli. He thinks he has acculturated 90%. Dating an American girl helped him. He talks about getting used to American English instead of British English and differences between Texas and Kentucky English.

Keywords: Food; Language adjustment; Relationships with people; Weather

Subjects: Acculturation.; Assimilation (Sociology); Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Texas
Map Coordinates: 31, -100
GPS: Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 37.5, -85
00:32:58 - Good experiences and bad experiences

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Partial Transcript: Uh, can you, can you describe for me, uh, a, a really good experience that you've had in the United States, or particularly in Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen tells about a bad experience the day after he arrived in Dallas. The police were called after he goes for a walk in the neighborhood and plays with children in a fountain. He learns American fears of child abduction. He describes a good experience in Lexington when neighbors came in and the fire department came quickly to put out a fire in his apartment.

Keywords: Fire departments; Police

Subjects: Acculturation.; Assimilation (Sociology); Immigrants

GPS: Dallas (Tex.)
Map Coordinates: 32.779167, -96.808889
GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:39:02 - Communication with family in Nigeria

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Partial Transcript: Let's see, you, you have told me something about your family growing up.

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen does not have family in the U.S. He talks with his family in Nigeria for an hour on Sundays, 15 minutes in the middle of the week. He keeps up with Nigeria news online. He would like to go home to visit. He talks about helping in an international food store for a "family friend."

Keywords: African concept of family; Boko Haram; Family; Gifts; Long distance communication

Subjects: Families.; Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 8, 10
00:44:27 - Educating Kentuckians about Africa

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Partial Transcript: Uh, since you've been here--this is a question we ask a lot of people. Uh, what kinds of questions do Americans ask you about Nigeria?

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen explains that Americans in Lexington who have not traveled outside the country relate to you in a cold way and think Africa is a country. They ask you questions like: "Do you wear clothes in Africa? Do you live in trees?" He suggests they go on YouTube to see his city, Benin. He realizes television portrays AIDS and poverty, not shopping malls. He invites people to try Nigerian food, but some don't want to. He tries to educate Americans about the size of Africa, food, clothes, and especially respect for elders. He uses a smoked fish analogy to talk about discipline. He talks about not being comfortable with American informality and using first names.

Keywords: Africa as a country; Discipline; Ignorance about Africa; Informality of first names; Misconceptions; Respect for elders

Subjects: Africa; Nigeria

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
GPS: Benin City, Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 6.333333, 5.622222
00:53:58 - Identity

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Partial Transcript: Uh, when you meet somebody for the first time and they say "Where are you from?" what do you say?

Segment Synopsis: Osayamwen says he is from Africa, West Africa, Nigeria. Some people say to him, "Speak English" and he says he is speaking proper English. Others are more willing to ask about Nigeria. He sometimes pulls out his cell phone and shows pictures of his city, Benin. He adds that he is from a Christian family. He and the interviewer talk about similarities and differences between Benin City and Lexington.

Keywords: Christian; Languages; Nigerian; Proper English

Subjects: Africans--Race identity; Lexington (Ky.); Nigeria

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)

Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
GPS: Benin City, Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 6.333333, 5.622222