The Light - An Alumni Publication Winter 2014/2015 - Page 8

ON THE BACK OF A LION When Aisha Waziri (above) from Kaduna, Nigeria was awarded a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) scholarship in 2011, she was faced with an immediate roadblock. “When I was first selected, there was a little problem because some people in my family were like ‘no, you cannot go on this exchange program, you’re a girl and you cannot travel 1,000 miles away from home.” When she arrived in New York, she was faced with another reality: ignorance. “When I came to America, in school people asked me a lot of questions because all they see on TV is that Africa is very poor and they said ‘Oh, do you live in trees? Do you ride a lion to school? Are you starving in Africa?’ Everybody believed that Africa is a country, not a continent. They never said ‘Aisha is from Nigeria.’ It hurt me.” Waziri was chosen for the competitive YES scholarship because of her resilience and desire to breakdown stereotypes. She admits that she, too, held certain views about the United States. “We 8 | The Light • YFU all believe th