The young adults took in their surroundings, as the city pulsed with activity. They stretched their necks to look up at the tall buildings, moving slowly, so as not to miss anything and to avoid entering traffic. The Transitions Program participants were in Abuja, Nigeria, a four-hour drive from home, but it felt like a different world.
Last year, Nigeria launched the Transitions Program as an opportunity for young adults who’ve graduated high school to receive guidance into adulthood. One of the key components is to offer new experiences and opportunities to build independence, problem solving skills, and maturity.
Once a week, they meet with Back2Back staff and discuss developing personal budgets and creating goals. The young adults are also counseled on their self-identity, decision making, and learn job-finding and interviewing skills.
Recently, along with adult chaperones, they visited Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. This was their first trip out of the state, and they agreed it was unlike anything they’d ever seen. Abuja is a relatively modern city with expressways, tall buildings, street lights, and shopping malls.
After a four-hour car ride, they were given a list of challenges to complete – figuring out public transportation, checking in at a hotel, choosing a place for lunch, and getting around the city. Adult chaperones were nearby, but the young adults were encouraged to take these exercises seriously, and practice their critical thinking and independence. They were each given a budget for the day and asked to manage their funds well. At the end of the day, they’d each navigated through the list and successfully handled each challenge.
When asked to reflect on the trip, nearly everyone responded the same – they loved the escalators and figuring out how to step without falling. They learned a valuable lesson – there will always be something in front of you to navigate, and regardless of who is watching, you have to just take the next step.
There is power in independence, and a trip like this helps it grow. The lesson on this day was beyond navigation and budgeting, it was learning to use their strength and conquer what’s still unknown.