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Rhoda Adewole-Osiwa, university student


Now calling Western Australia home for eight years, Rhoda Adewole-Osiwa originally came from Nigeria and is studying biomedical science and finance at Notre Dame University.

But Rhoda found the first few years here to be very challenging.

“When you arrive in a new country, you struggle a bit with your identity. You’ve left your home, you’ve left behind everything you know and everything you understand. Some people often don’t realise how difficult this is, or even talk about it”, she said.

Rhoda found her teenage years particularly hard.

“When you are 11, 12 or a teenager — these can be the most crucial parts of your life. How do you navigate through this? You have to take everything in really fast and learn how to adjust.”

Often the transition leaving one country and moving to another is very difficult, but Rhoda thinks this is often hardest for people from African countries.

“It was very tough when I first came here. I could see people who looked like me but the communication and connection I knew in Africa was lost.

“In Nigeria, if you go away for a while, when you come back everyone comes to welcome you and to see how you are and listen to your stories. But here it’s not the same – everyone minds their own business.

“I struggled at first, but then you find the good in everyone, no matter where they came from originally, and you merge it all.”

In high school, Rhoda got involved in RU OK Day activities. She was part of the student council and helped to make sure that people were connected and relaxed.

“You see a lot of smiling faces, but what’s actually underneath that? RU OK Day is a day when people take care to look out for others. This can help a lot.”

Rhoda is currently taking part in a mentoring program called AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience).

“I recognised when people are struggling a bit, that we share the same need to find balance. I wanted to say ‘I’ve been through what you’re going through, I’ve lived this’.

“The moment you find a balance, that’s the moment you start to get better.”

This year Rhoda is helping out with her university RU OK Day program.

“Helping other people helps you help yourself, so it’s good for all of us. Take the time to find out if someone is OK.”

Page reviewed 20 October 2020