Alexandra Zion, a young Nigerian woman came to the US as a student in 2018 to continue her education, pursue a master’s degree in research in Afrofuturism , post-colonialism, to build relationships with students within and outside the classroom while also preparing to be an educator someday.
She considers herself to be a success! Find out why.
Would you consider yourself a success, Alex?
Yes. And that’s a big, yes, because in , as much as I still have all these goals and all these dreams and all these things that I’m trying to do.
I feel like where I am right now is somewhere that I’ve always looked forward to.FULL TRANSCRIPTS HERE
Alexandra Zion An Educator
Paula: [00:00:00] Welcome to Chatting With the Experts, which is a podcast for immigrant women from Nigeria, from Ghana and the Caribbean and other parts of Africa who have relocated to the UK and the U S and these days, those who have relocated to Canada as well. Here we talk about the struggles, but we also highlight the triumphs.
Experienced by these young and more matured women sometimes while sharing resources and experiences that our fellow immigrant sisters can benefit from.
My guest today is the young Nigerian woman, Alexandra Zion. I am very blessed to have her as a guest. Typically I read the bio of my guests, but this time I’m going to ask her.
To talk about herself. Can you introduce yourself to our listening audience?
Alexandra: [00:01:09] Thank you so much. So as you said, I am a young Nigerian woman. I came into the U S as a student about three years ago in 2018 to continue my education and pursue a master’s degree. So currently I’m in my final semester, final month of the semester and I’m looking forward to wrapping up.
So my interests really are more academic inclined. So I find myself involved in research in Afrofuturism, post-colonialism and also, building relationships with students within and outside the classroom. So as, as a student, I have all of those experiences with not just learning, but also preparing myself to be an educator someday.
So I came into the US with a bachelor’s degree in English, from Covenant University in Nigeria.
Paula: [00:02:20] So what drove you into that? What inspired you to go to think about going down that career path?
Alexandra: [00:02:26] So I figured as a growing student in college, I would say in my second year or third year that I really like to just teach.
So if I knew something, I found pleasure in helping someone else know the same thing. So I would always, find ways. To help some of my classmates or to help someone else in a different class, if it was something that I knew, it was just something that I liked. It was just something that I found pleasure doing.
I could do it at any time of the day. I could do it without expecting, any kind of compensation in return. So I just enjoy the art of teaching and helping someone else grow through something that I already have experience or something that I already know. That was when I started to think about becoming a teacher or becoming an educator.
And then I’ve always looked for opportunities in that light. So I started first as a tutorial coordinator in college, back in Nigeria in my third and fourth years, I used to tutor freshmen and second year students in my department on courses that they had issues with. So I would gather them together and then just teach them in a different way.
And one thing about students that I noticed at the time was as someone who was closer to them in age and in rank, I would say it was easy for them to connect and relate with me. So I always found it as a pleasure to be with them and to share that experience with them. So that went on for the last two years of my degree in Covenant . Came to the US I began my masters.
I got a teaching assistantship, also got a position to teach. I tried to run away from any other position that would not allow me to teach. So throughout my degree, here in the U S I’ve always taught classrooms semester to semester. And I would do that. Teach English, composition, advanced grammar, writing anything I know I can teach.
I volunteered myself to teach. And so I did that over and again, built relationships with students within the classroom and outside of the classroom. And, just bringing together all of those experiences, both from college and right now, Keep reinforcing my desire to go on, go out there and become an educator.
I love that. So it’s all in the spirit of giving back.
Paula: [00:05:06] Great. Great. So let’s come back to the theme of this podcast is about immigrant women from Africa and the Caribbean, because I have roots in both. And so what made you decide to migrate here? I know that you got your first degree in Nigeria in Covenant university, but they were, you had other options you could have gone to.
Germany. That might’ve been a different story because that’s, there’s a language barrier, but you could have gone to the UK, but you could chose Australia because I know a lot of people are going to Australia, but you chose to come to the U S . Any particular reason why ?
Alexandra: [00:05:40] I will get into the reason I remember now, one of the questions I had from a few people when I was coming to the U S for my master’s.
When they knew that it was going to do a master’s in English. One of the questions I got was why not the UK, cause it’s like the English land. And I did check out courses in the UK. I did check out programs. I did check out, schools. In as many places as I could. But aside from the nation itself, I was more particular about the cost content.
I wanted something that would align with my interests in terms of research and, The cost that I wanted to study and something where I felt like I could express myself and grow. So at the time, my research definitely was limited, but most of the programs I found in the UK, the curriculum centered around.
Areas that I didn’t exactly see myself going into, so maybe Victorian literature, Shakespearean literature. I love those things in terms of, to read and to write about them and as a part of the program as a whole, but they weren’t exactly my research interests. So I wanted something that would ground me in African-American literature, African literature, Caribbean literature, something that speaks to those areas.
And I found that most schools in the U S had programs related to that. So that was, that was what influenced my decision to come to the U S so it wasn’t really about the country. It was more about. The cost content and what I felt was most tailored to what I wanted to do.
Paula: [00:07:27] Great answer.
Because that’s, I know that’s something that a lot of young people sometimes struggle with, like where would I just want to. Get us a post-graduate degree. But as you said, the content does matter. The course content does matter because things were better. And you already have the disadvantage.
I want to say leaving your own country where you’re familiar with the foods and the people. And so if you’re going to go abroad, you should put into consideration what you really wanted to study, what you’re going. They will have a purpose, have a focus so that it makes life a little easier for you and your transition.
So as we talk about, as I talk about transition, how was your transition here? Because you came as a foreigner.
Alexandra: [00:08:14] Yes. I wouldn’t say I’ve fully transitioned, but I would say to a good extent, right? To an extent where I can publicly say that I have the hang of it right now, but when I came in, there were a couple of things that.
Neat that had me think to myself. What was I thinking in the first place? I had different experiences, so some of them, and they, they ranged from different things like maybe fitting in with the culture in terms of race or maybe. Where I’m from Nigeria, Africa, all of that. And then also the almost minor things like the weather.
It was just a whole lot. So I remember my first semester was in the fall. That was in 2018, August, 2018. I came in winter was just setting in you know, it was getting cold. As a student, I came in my first semester, I wasn’t in driving. I was just trying to, settle down. We’ll take the train and do all of that.
And I remember breaking down one time at the train station because that particular day I’m trying to remember what exactly happened. I think my classes used to end by [7:30] PM. So it was five to seven 30 for graduate classes. Cause they, they tried to consider those who are working nine to five jobs and needed to be in school.
And so five to [7:30] PM. One of those days, I wasn’t, I was just done with class. I was expecting my train by eight. So I went to the train station. They, you had it in mind that I would be there till [8:00] PM. I trained her in calm until eight 30. It was in the cold. Like it was really cold. It was icy cold.
Everywhere was. And I just started crying because I had no idea when the tears. Started to roll down my chicks. It was just sudden, but that was one of the experiences that I still remember clearly, even now, because it wasn’t just about the tears. It was just, it was, when you have pent up emotions and then one time you just released everything.
So that was how I felt my first semester and then making friends and finding a community was something else. So as a graduate student who works on campus, I was on campus most of the time, but it wasn’t as easy because everyone seemed to already know someone. And I find myself to be, I wouldn’t say extremely introverted, maybe an ambivalence boy.
It takes a while for me to really connect. So I might have one or two friends here and there easily talk to people on first meeting, but viewed in a friendship takes time. So most of the time on campus, I’ll find out that after work hours while waiting for my classes, sometimes I add three, four hours. Of idle time.
It wasn’t every time during those three to four hours that I felt like studying. Sometimes I just wanted to talk to someone and the time difference than make it so easy because at that time, my friends in other parts of the world, especially maybe in Nigeria where I sleep. So it was just me trying to navigate all of this.
But, as time went on, I found a community and then church really helped because I would go for services over, I think two, three months. I started to know a few more people and was able to build that community. So I think, thank God for that. Then back to the major things like maybe racism or discrimination.
I remember being in front of Walmart. And I was staying with a family member. We were just parked in front of Walmart and some people drove by and they parked right next to us. And then we’re just talking and everything. And, sometimes by the accents people can tell. So they were like, where are you from?
I’m like Nigeria. And then one of the questions that. One of them asked me was also, they have phones in Nigeria.
Paula: [00:12:42] Oh my
Alexandra: [00:12:44] huh. Trying to make sense of it. So it just didn’t make any sense. And then he goes on to ask me about one of the leaders in, I think Libya or Syria. And I’m like, no, they’re two different countries.
That’s Nigeria. You know, the concept of being from Africa makes a lot of people think that everything is Africa is a country. And you’re here trying to say, it’s not a country, it’s a continent where there are other countries in that continent. And it doesn’t essentially mean that I’m well-versed about the other country.
You know, all of those little things here and there. Made up the transition process for me, but eventually, it’s been good, especially, I would really think the community that I’ve found. So just been able to relate with people, connect with my professors, and just come out of my shell and try to settle down as being, as been such an experience.
But it’s been great altogether.
Paula: [00:13:55] I love that. That’s a reality story. That’s a real, you were saying it as it was, and I understand. Yup. Yup. But what I’m hearing from you is, but now it’s better. So it took some time, there was a transition, there was a learning curve. There was an adjustment period.
But now it’s better.
Alexandra: [00:14:17] Yes,
Paula: [00:14:17] So, it is. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. Okay. So that’s, that’s good to know. And I think that’s a great story that a lot of prospective students should hear. It’s not. The brochure that comes from the university always looks so much better that when you actually get here, and I’m speaking from experience, I know that it’s like, Oh my gosh. And the weather doesn’t help. No matter how much you hear about it’s being cold, actually standing in Nicole, waiting for Barstow or whatever, public transport. That’s another story. And it isn’t it. It is. Oh, okay. So we’ve spoken about.
What made you decide to come here, your experience while here we’ve spoken about what you’re doing right now, your research and how much you’re enjoying it. And you want to give back and also talk about you’re at the tail end of graduating. That’s that’s really good. I’m gonna ask you a question.
That I ask quite a lot. Not everybody, but quite a lot of my guests, which is, as we hear all of that, we start from the beginning. You had a degree, you decided you wanted to study, you looked at other countries. Other places. And then you realize that, okay, the U S had every, what you wanted in terms of the course content you came here, you had the adjustment problems or transition challenges.
And now you’re at the tail end and you have come as you’ve done your research, you realize you’re doing what you love. Would you consider yourself a success,
Alexandra: [00:16:01] Alex? Yes. And that’s a big, yes, because in as much as I still have all those goals and all these dreams and all these things that I’m trying to do.
I feel like where I am right now is somewhere that I’ve always looked forward to. That is being at the tail end of my degree, having grown through the process the past few years, learning on learning, relearning, certain things, putting myself out there, everything. I would say you know, things that I used to look forward to of how do I grow?
How do I, be a scholar, find myself in a classroom to change students, for example, in I think in my foot semester. So yes. Or the fifth? Yeah, the fifth one. I was privileged by my department to take a class all by myself. So according to them at displayed, sorry level of professionalism and experience, and they felt like I could lead a class all by myself.
So under my teaching assistantship, they gave me that opportunity. I had about 15 students in class and there was doing dependent mix. It was an online only. Plus, I didn’t get to see them in present, but we had such an amazing time. So I just combined all of the experiences that I had, the ones that I had learned from the ones that I wanted to adopt combined all of them into that classroom.
And we had a really great time. So thinking of that and, just being on that path to becoming a full-time educator at some point is what I would consider being a success. So yes,
Paula: [00:17:58] I love it. I really do. Thank you. Summarize it all. I like that. Are there any questions that I haven’t asked you that you’re thinking to yourself?
I wish you would just ask me this because I have an answer that I want to share with the world.
Alexandra: [00:18:14] I think just the concept of being an immigrant. So I would say right now I’m still, an international student. I haven’t fully decided, or fully, I can’t fully call myself like an immigrant, cause I’m still an international student.
And then just going on to see how my dreams and my goals flesh out in the next one year, two years, five years. Yeah. So that’s what I would say.
Paula: [00:18:45] Oh, okay. All right. There’s something you haven’t shared with the audience that I know about you. This is a podcast and you are my guests on this podcast. So hint, is there something else that you haven’t said yet?
Alexandra: [00:18:59] The podcast.
Paula: [00:19:01] Yes. That’s how I discovered you through your podcast.
Alexandra: [00:19:05] Yes. Okay. So I do have a poetry podcast, so I’ve been writing poetry for awhile -since secondary school, which is what is called high school here .Been writing poetry . Sharing it on my personal blog.
So I have a personal blog where I just share non-academic stuff. That was where I started the idea of, okay. Maybe have a podcast where I just share my poems. And so it’s called poem o’clock, which means time for poetry. You can type a poem. So poem o’clock with Alexandra Zion. Yes. And my blog is alexandrazion.com. It’s been on for five years now. So I started it in my third year in college.
I just wanted a space where I could share something right. When I felt like cause I always have this ideas all over the place. And sometimes I read a book cause I like to read. So I read a book and I see something and I’m like, no, someone else has to hear this. So still that idea of being an educator and wanting to teach also being a writer or having rights and as a hobby and stuff, I decided to have a blog where I could share all of those thoughts and share.
I share all kinds of things on my blog from travel experiences sometimes too. Something, I read too, a biography, to different things. And then my poetry also, which has now translated into a podcast so people can listen, just enjoy. Yep.
Paula: [00:20:41] So we are seeing all sides of Alexander. I keep calling you, Alex, do you mind me calling you Alex?
Alexandra: [00:20:47] Alex is fine.
Paula: [00:20:48] Okay. So you’ve seen the academic side and now we’ve seen the non-academic side. Awesome. So you’ve said you touched briefly on the fact that you can be fat. You have a website because you were at to blog. Are there any other social media places that you can be found?
Alexandra: [00:21:05] Instagram would be ideal and LinkedIn.
So if you’re trying to see the less academic side, Instagram is great. And my Instagram handle is Alexandra Zion. So a L E X, a N D R a Z I O N . My LinkedIn… I think we’re going to share the link so that there’s a direct link, but my LinkedIn has my full name because Zion is like a nickname kind of thing.
So my LinkedIn has my first and last name and yeah, that’s where I would share more professional academic stuff.
Paula: [00:21:45] Gotcha. Gotcha. Thank you so much, Alex. I have really enjoyed talking with you. What our listeners don’t know is that we had a bit of a struggle trying to get this together in terms of even scheduling.
And then when we finally did get the schedule together, technology failed us, which is what I say to people. Technology will always fail you. There was a work around that. So that’s why we are here today. So this was meant to be. Thank you again. Thank you, Alex, for coming on to chatting with the experts, you’ve been an amazing guest.
I’ve enjoyed learning about you. Then, and about your highlights, challenges, the things that you know, inspire you, your academic side and your non-academic side, they all make you who you are. Who knows? Maybe you may, I know you have a podcast and that’s how I discovered you. I was going to say maybe you made transition into.
Doing something like I do speaking to fellow podcasters or fellow poets who knows. Oh, you may just stay as you are because your poems have inspired me.
Alexandra: [00:22:51] Thank you. Thank you so much. And thank you also for having me.
Paula: [00:22:55] Absolutely.So for my listeners, if you have enjoyed Alex or Alexandra, Zion, please head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else, you listen to podcasts and click subscribe.
If you are an immigrant woman from Nigeria or Ghana in particular. Or Africa or the Caribbean and have found these stories. Interesting. Please let us know in your reviews. And if you would like to be a guest on my show, captain with the experts, please head over to www.chatterwithexperts.com forward slash contact us and let’s chat.