Thursday October 22
By Temiloluwa Macaulay
The United States Consulate recently treated some teenage students of Lagos based Holy Child, Maryhood Girls’ and Pentecost colleges to a motivational lecture and inspirational narratives, at a programme organized to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.
The Consulate’s former spokesperson and Deputy Director, Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program at Howard University, Dr Atim George, told the students not to be discouraged by mistakes or setbacks they might encounter, but to turn such experiences into launch pads towards achieving greater feats.
Speaking metaphorically, George took her audience back to her childhood years, when the frequently asked question was – She got game? But the notion, she explained, only implied that “the woman is bright, skilled, resourceful, innovative or daring.”
She said: “As a young girl in America, I grew up playing jacks, hop scotch and double Dutch, a form of jump rope I never mastered. These were girls’ games and according to the rules of these games, if you made a mistake, you had to begin all over again.
“These rules influenced the female members of my generational cohort. How? While playing jacks, for example, if you made a mistake at fourseys, you had to start at oneseys when it was your turn again. What a message to programme into the girl child’s head. Upon encountering an obstacle or setback, she might be inclined to quit the game because she doesn’t want to start all over again.”
Imploring the students never to give up in their quest to succeed, even in the face of daunting challenges, George stated that she also learnt to build castles and play chess, which enabled her to think strategically. “I learned to anticipate my opponent’s next move and I learned that losses, such as that of the queen, could be reversed, if you understood and applied the rules of the game effectively.”
She underscored the importance of adequate preparation and passion as prerequisites for achieving success in anything. She also encouraged them to get involved in governance issues and contribute their quotas in making their respective communities better.
She said: “As you prepare to serve your communities by pursuing elective office, remember to have a game plan. My beloved uncle Arthur taught me ‘to plan your work and work your plan.’ Have you assessed the playing field? Who are your allies? Your adversaries? Those you can win over? What are the issues? What impact does poor governance have on the lives of everyday Nigerians? What plans and programmes do you intend to implement to address and remedy these problems?”
George also urged the students to prepare adequately for the tasks ahead of them. She said: “Please remember that when preparation meets opportunity, they inevitably produce success.” But she advised them to be patient as well. “Success is the progressive realisation of a worthwhile goal,” she said. “You determine what is worthwhile, but remember that it is progressive – step by step, precept by precept. In the face of setback or defeat, the player with game continues to practice, knowing that ultimately, she will attain mastery.”
She also appealed to the girls to adhere to a honourable standard of conduct in order to truly make a difference. Her words: “Your ethics serve as a moral compass and guidance system to steer your course through trials and tribulations that you will inevitably encounter.”
George added: “During my 30 years in diplomacy and beyond, I have come to recognise that when you seek to serve, when you run the race with diligence and passion, there is always a blessing. So, when I speak of reward and success, I mean create opportunities for individual and national development.”
Popular singer, Ms. Yinka Davis also encouraged the girls to step forward and take their places in the society. She urged them to study hard and shun vices that could jeopardise their future.
An activist, Dr Abiola Akiyode also admonished the students not to allow anybody intimidate or consign them to second place. She said as a university student, she contested for and won the students’ union election, despite the odds against her.