Olubiyi Adebayo Michael would, definitely, consider himself a life-long learner.
Michael is a Coady International Institute diploma in development leadership 2017 participant from Nigeria, where he works as a project co-ordinator for the Spinel Foundation.
“I always look forward to a platform that will further educate me to make excellent and significant contributions towards the development of a change driven nation and also towards achieving my organizational goals and objectives,” he said, as part of his Coady website profile.
The online profile also includes a brief description of the foundation, as provided by Michael.
“Spinel Foundation is a nonprofit organization that operates in the educational and community livelihood development sector,” it reads.
“We are continuously committed to community, education and skills building, livelihood, and rural infrastructural development.”
Michael lists his tasks as including; implementing community projects, skills and education empowerment, and advocacy activities.
“I manage relationships with key stakeholders; liaise with private agencies, government and other organizations to explore potential collaborations,” he stated.
In talking to the Casket Nov. 10, Michael noted he started this type of work as a volunteer and that it “fueled a passion in me.”
“I developed a real interest,” he said, of working at the grassroots, with education and community building.
Asked about challenges with his work, Michael noted just the time and effort required, while quickly adding, “but, all along the way, my passion keeps driving me.”
As far as his motivation to attend the Coady, he referenced his quote from the website profile while also noting “learning new things and unlearning others.”
“And, right from the first class, they’ve all developed me to be a better development practitioner,” he said. “I believe I’m a time-boom about to explode in my country because, when I go back, I have a lot to give back.”
Michael talked about soaking in the knowledge and experiences of his fellow participants.
“People from different backgrounds, countries, ways of doing things; the class is so rich of experiences one can take from,” he said.
“People bring so much to class; a lot of knowledge, methodologies, it’s quite enriching … we’ve learned a lot from ourselves.”
He noted the learning opportunities extend beyond the classroom, to residence and the dining hall time, and beyond.
“The off-campus experience has been wonderful because Antigonish people are quite engaging; they’re so accommodating,” he said.
He noted he has enjoyed learning about different cultures in the area, such as Mi’kmaq, and the inclusions of culture during the art fairs he attended in the summer.
“I asked a lot of questions and learned a lot then,” he said.
“And we went to Africville in Halifax which was wonderful. I learned a lot about their history, how they’ve been resilient with what they went through.”
Michael said it’s evident that resiliency comes through the power of community, through unity.
“And you see that here, just out walking,’ he said. “Antigonish is a small but powerful community.”