“In the United States, there’s this intimate interaction … he or she is always eager to come down very low to your level.”
Justine Nwanakwere is a doctoral candidate in Economics from Lagos, Nigeria. He spoke to me about the distinct differences of professor and student interaction in his home country of Nigeria and the United States.
“In the United States, there’s this intimate interaction and relationship between the professors and the students. No matter how high the professor is in their qualifications and career, he or she is always eager to come down very low to your level as a student, interact with you. So, this gives the student a level of security, it’s always that they take their questions to the professor any day at any time. So that helps the communication, that helps the learning, that helps the relationship, the mentorship building. It’s a little bit different from my country. There is a student-professor relationship but it’s not as close as what we have here. There’s always that guard.
...It’s because in Nigeria we have a lot of value in our culture and the culture sometimes is considered as being respectful when you meet someone that is elderly, not just in age, but also in career. It is expected of students to behave in a certain way that suggests that you are loyal and respectful. So, this kind of stuff really made having an intimate relationship and communication with your professor a little bit difficult. Other students get a little bit afraid to meet the professor. And I think the professors themselves, also the culture rubbed off on them. They don’t really see themselves coming down low. ...When I got here, I had to adjust, you cannot call your professor by name in Nigeria. It’s not even allowed. Not in any written law but culture and morality there expects you not to do that.”
About the Project and Creator
“The Voices of International Students Project” features UNH students from various countries and academic backgrounds. This is a fall 2021 weekly storytelling project that centers on the voices of international students and their experiences at UNH. This project is intended to not only celebrate and highlight the diversity we have on campus but also to give international students the opportunity to share their unique stories and what they have learned from being international students on campus.
Jennifer Rose is an intern in the UNH Global Education and created “The Voices of International Students Project.” She is currently a Liberal Studies major with a self-designed concentration in Intercultural Studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She will be finished with her bachelor's degree in December 2021. Studying abroad in London and Berlin during college exposed her to various cultures and inspired her to do this project.