The Neighborhood Scoop By Dr. Cynthia L. Toles


Have you ever dreamed of what you would do, what you would be and where you would go?  

In elementary school and high school, the seven continents were a part of several subjects taught in school.

The discussions always ended with being successful in various fields of study and the places we might visit one day.

For me, I never thought or dreamed of going to one of the continents – Africa.

Africa is the continent that African-American associate with slavery, our ancestors and our Black History experience.

There are 67 countries in Africa, with 39 states in Nigeria and over 22 million people in the state of Lagos. Lagos has three prominent groups of people – Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.

Their national language is English. Nigeria has two seasons – rainy and dry.

The temperature ranges from 80 to 90 degree most of the time year round.

In 2012, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to live and work in Lagos (Festac Town), Nigeria.  My journey began as an elementary principal in “The Communion School.”  The flight to Lagos took 16 hours one way.

When I arrived in Lagos, I was met and greeted by the staff of the school. The Nigerians are quite friendly and very accommodating.

My lifestyle in this country was totally different from Alabama, USA. One of the main areas that I had to adjust was the power (lights) being cutoff randomly, so a flashlight was a necessity.

Most of the schools in Festac Town, Lagos, are private. The school I was principal of is a private pre-school and elementary.

My experience at the school enabled me to use my leadership, parenting and curriculum skills with staff, students and parents.

One of my greatest inadequacies was resources. The school was limited in school supplies, and technology was almost none existent.

My administration and leadership skills afforded me the opportunity to be a presenter at the Nigerian International Conference, which was held at the American International School of Lagos.

My journey to Lagos, Nigeria, was an experience of a lifetime.

I will always remember friends, people, teachers, parents and students who made my stay enjoyable.

Grateful are my words for Alabamians and Americans.

We cannot imagine how blessed we are until we have experienced someone else’s shoes.

Dr. Cynthia Toles is a retired educator and current director of the Antioch Family Life Center.

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