Nigerian students experience heightened stress due to flooding in home county

Nov. 1, 2022, 9:36 p.m.

Students from Nigeria said it was difficult to concentrate on academics due to worry and heightened stress as record-breaking floods in their home country led to at least 600 deaths and 1.3 million displaced people.

The floods, which began in late September, have impacted the majority of the country. Fuel and food shortages are plaguing millions, while displaced people live in poor conditions with little governmental support. The floods are expected to continue for another month, which may exacerbate the economic and humanitarian crisis.

Nigerian student Nkemjika Obi ’25, who is the president of the Nigerian Student Association, which includes over 70 members, said she found it difficult to try and process the news while having to continue her studies on campus. Obi has extended family in Nigeria who are currently living through the disaster.

It is “disheartening and heartbreaking” to watch the floods occur while you “can’t do much about it,” Obi said.

Nigerian P.h.D student Oluwakemisola Adeusi, who is from Nigeria, said she saw “the news through various social media platforms and it brought tears to my eyes because I couldn’t process how bad it was.”

“It is devastating to have people call you from home, knowing the situation they are [in], I’m sure it is difficult for some people to concentrate,” Aduesi said. “I couldn’t process how bad [the situation] was.”

According to Adeusi, the seriousness of the situation was reinforced when Stanford reached out to a small group of Nigerian students about the floods in an Oct. 19 email.

The email provided mental health resources for students on campus including the Bechtel International Center, the Graduate Life Office and Residential Education’s student support division. The University wrote that people in each of these offices would be “available to meet with individual students.”

On Oct. 20, Adeusi tweeted a screenshot of part of the email she received. The tweet, which has since garnered about 3,600 likes and almost 1,000 retweets, expressed appreciation for the University’s outreach.

Many commented in response that Nigerian universities seemed less concerned than Stanford about the situation. Regarding the University’s response, Adeusi said, “I believe it is sincere because it takes effort.”

“Dean of Students Mona Hicks sent a message of care and concern to about 36 Nigerian students who indicate in our student information system that their homes are located in Nigeria,” wrote University spokesperson Pat Harris in a statement to The Daily.

However, since Nkemjika Obi’s home address is in the United States, she never received the message of support from the University, despite her extended family being directly affected by the floods.

“I am still a Nigerian-American, so this still impacts me,” Obi said. While she appreciated that they sent an email, she said “excluding students in the diaspora is a blindsight.”

Obi also wished there was “acknowledgment that a lot of these events are happening because of climate change.”

“The people that are bearing the brunt of these natural disasters are the ones that contribute the least to global warming,” Obi said. “Our action or inaction in the United States directly impacts people in the global south.”

Adeusi said that the floods might cause “more of a mental health issue” for students, but that the University is providing adequate support as long as they continue to provide access to mental health resources.

Obi wished that the University was “more intentional” in recognizing that “there are Africans that are connected to their country [who] do not necessarily live there.”

The University will be “following this ongoing tragedy and its impact for Stanford students,” Harris wrote.

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