What is your name?

My name is Chika Morkah

Did you grow up outside of the US? If So, what was it like growing up in your native country?

Yes, I did grow up outside of the US. I was born in Nigeria, from the eastern part of Nigeria. I grew up amongst boys so I didn’t do what girls would normally do growing up. Playing soccer, playing pranks on people and doing all kinds of sports. I am the last born in my family so I grew up around so many older people so I learnt a lot about life and saw some of it unfold.

How did you decide to attend a university outside of your native country?

My growing up contributed to my decision to travel outside of my native country for a higher education due to the early exposure I had knowledge and also diversity. My mom always taught us to love no matter the colour of the skin. She had a strong attachment to that belief because she grew up with british people who in the 1950s and 60s could have chosen to be slave drivers but were very kind to them despite the colour of their skin. She imparted that unto us her children so it stuck real strong. The school curriculum and the program was another thing that drew my attention the the outside world.

What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change?

My first thoughts about coming to the US was a limited notion that people highly minded their business and you can easily cater to yourself. You have to ask for help when needed. The notions changed largely due to my personal experiences on arrival. I saw that most of my information was not accurate. It has been a good experience so far.

Did you face any challenges transitioning to the US or to Cleveland?

I came straight from Nigeria to Cleveland without having to live in any other city in the US yet, from my journey to settling down into the Cleveland Hostel, it was a very smooth transition. Moving on to the culture….there was no shock at all…I already knew that there is a reliable bus system even if i don’t have a car and all i had to do was pay to get by, i already knew that i was coming into an entirely different system and structure of government so i had to make the adjustments in y mind before coming. So it was generally a smooth transition.

What Traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

The tradition of Humanity. Constantly reminding myself that we are all the same no matter the difference in culture and race, we are humans first before anything. In addition to loving people, sometimes it can be really difficult but with the grace of God and strength of character we can do it.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

It helps create balance in lifestyle. It also creates options for people to adapt and interact with new cultures and traditions. We don’t have to accept them but accommodating them is a good way to grow and expand in knowledge. Nobody knows everything. We learn everyday.

Why is important to travel abroad?

Diversity. Exposure to all kinds and types of character, personality, lifestyle and cultures that exist are limitless. Nobody can really know everything, travelling is a good way to find the balance that we need in life because if we try to put ourselves in people’s’ shoes’ we might be able to understand better how they think, not to use it against them but to help nurture.