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Getting the most out of the online class discussion board

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Elizabeth Babalola, DHS

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Sr. Elizabeth reflects on her cohort experience as a HESA Student at Chestnut Hills College, and how using the online discussion board has changed her view of companionship.

I love traveling as a child. I love packing suitcases and putting everything I thought would be needed in it. I cherished the horns of a car. I feel happy seeing the trees. It seems they are the ones rushing by. I love being with other passengers in a car. I thought that was fun. I thought that was adventure. I thought that was companionship. That was what I believed. As a religious, leaving my family to join the congregation seems to be an adventure. I was happy meeting other people. I got to share other cultures and beliefs. I learn new ways of doing things. Witnessing becomes a daily journey. I thought that was all about Companionship.

Traveling to HESA Orientation

I gained admission to Chestnut Hill College Philadelphia, through HESA program. That was a few months ago. Then I got an invitation to come for an orientation course. I packed all what I thought I needed. Set out on the journey to Jos, Plateau State. I boarded a car at the park. With me were 2 other sisters. We are all Christians and the driver happens to be a Muslim.

My first idea was not to talk with the driver. He does not belong to the same religion as I. What do I have to say to him? I forgot he is not a religion first, but a human being. We had a stopover because armed robbers were operating. I was afraid, panicked and confused. The driver was bonded to me. He paid attention to my needs and fears. He did not think of himself. That 2 changed my idea of companionship. The rest of the journey, see us forming an attachment. We relate as a family. I pay more attention to him. I realized that I am sitting next to a companion.

My HESA Cohort Companions

I arrived safely in Jos and begin the orientation course. I had 13 other sisters with me on the course. They were from different congregations. They have different ideas and personality. My path has crossed with them. We belong to the same faith, so it was easier to love them. They are my companions on the journey. I thought that was all to it.

I try each day to follow the lecture. I see each person as part of me. Part of my success story. “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord” says the scripture. I turn my good morning into smile. I lighten up each person’s day as we meet with a joke. I thought as long as I do these we are companions. I never bother to know them more. I never find out about their desires. I never thought it wise to share myself with them. I never care to know what goes on behind the smiling faces. I never pay attention to the real person.

The discussion board changed my idea of companionship

We were introduced to the use of the Discussion Board -- it changed my idea of companionship. I moved from just meeting people to taking part in their lives. I got to know them better. I got courage to cast my net into the deep side of people’s lives. Through the discussions and sharing’s together on the board, I have come to know the meaning of companionship.

Whenever I take concerns to the board, they all shared it with me. I counted on their ideas and opinions for assignments. I look forward to reading their replies to my work. I always feel richer. My suitcase of knowledge increases. I find myself doing more than replying to a question. I enter into their world. I am part of a group. I take time to enter into the encounter. I thread gently into the space because it is sacred. Companions are to move together.

What I have learned

Three months has passed now since I have come to share my knowledge freely. I have learned not to hoard. I have being able to unlock my suitcase of wisdom. I have invited others to come and pick whatever they need. Discussion Board has become my new adventure, a place I love to travel to. Place where I am free to be myself and express myself. I have moved from locking things in suitcase to opening up. I wish to remain a companion on the journey. I wish to break the silence which enslaves. I wish to share useful ideas with lecturers and classmates. I have learned a great lesson, never to look down on anybody. Welcome everybody with open arms. Being a part of a group with a common goal has changed my ideas. Companionship is more than family ties. It means to share my true self with others.

Article Submitted by:

Sr. Babalola Tolulope Elizabeth, DHS


HESA Student at Chestnut Hill College, from Nigeria  

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