How I Used Hausa Language To Emerge Second Best At Indian Varsity –Sokoto-born, Hassan Usman
Four years ago, Sokoto-born Hassan Usman, left the shores of Nigeria as an unsung hero. The 25-year-old in this interview with ADENIYI OLUGBEMI, narrates how he returned home with Integral University, Lucknow, India’s prestigious, first African silver medal for outstanding performance in Bio-Medical Engineering.
How did your journey to India begin?
My journey to India was a divine arrangement because, as a child from a struggling background, my dream was to at most acquire a diploma and set out to work, in order to support my family. Of course, I struggled to obtain a diploma in Science Laboratory Technology, from Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic in 2015, though with not too impressive result because, I had to combine schooling with some hustles to augment the little finances my parents could afford.
When my brother brokered the news by the Sokoto State Scholarships Board, requesting interested Sokoto state indigenes to come forward and apply for foreign scholarship, I was initially sceptical to apply because, here is a child of nobody nor, connected to anyone in government. As if my brother has the premonition of what lies ahead, he pressured me to apply. I was thereafter shortlisted and successful in all the selection and interview stages and, offered admission to study Bio-Medical Engineering at Integral University, Lucknow, India.
How was it settling down in a new environment?
Settling down in an entirely strange and new environment is not a tea party. Though, alongside my colleagues, we left Nigeria with the hindsight of landing in India into the welcoming hands of new orientation, culture environment and lifestyle etc, what I found most challenging was adaptation to their weather and food. There, it is very humid while here, it is semi-humid. Many of us experienced skin hitching.
However, I was never deterred. I quickly put myself together and adjusted, having at the back of my mind that, I am in India for a determined mission within a timeframe of four years.
What are the things you really missed about home while studying in India?
Yes, the feeling of missing home was there prior to our departure to India but, immediately I landed in India, I realized that, what took me out of my comfort zone was a lifetime opportunity for a task that must be accomplished, I allowed my mission to preoccupied my mind and, once in a while get across to people at home.
At what point did it dawn on you that emerging as one of the medallists in your course of study is achievable?
Had it been I set my eyes on the medals, I could probably have aimed for the gold. I was just engrossed in my studies like any other student aiming for a good grade. I however observed that after the result of our first year was declared according to the norm of the university, there was this particular lady, an Indian and a course mate, who eventually won the gold medal, shedding tears that my scores were higher than her scores.
This, I did not bother to find out or took into cognisance. It was close to the end of our second year, I asked my mentor, an Indian, who then throw more light on the significance of the medals (gold and silver) and, the criteria involved. At the end of our second year, the Indian lady was far ahead of me and, I only took solace that the gold medal was her mission of being in the college and, I just concentrated on my studies.
What is the significance of the silver medal you won?
The silver medal I won, being the first African to attain such feat at Integral University, Lucknow, is a prestigious award of academic excellence. Outside India academic system, it might be seen as just a medal but over there, it is a clarification that Indians do not have monopoly of knowledge, for an African to emerge best student on their soil.
This medal is a precious award for Africans and every other international student. The medal is highly celebrated among Indians because it is something they compete for, and desire to posses.
To understand how competitive the award is, it is only given to the best two graduating students. It is the only medal award worldwide without the bronze
To win either the gold or silver medal, a graduating student must attain the level of utmost range, I mean what we call distinction in his/her studies. Even in the distinction class, the medal is only awarded to the first two toppers. The gold and silver medals are given, not only to people with the highest score alone but, without a resit and carry over, throughout their studies in the college.
Is Bio-Medical Engineering your choice course of study?
- Armed with a diploma in Science Laboratory Technology, I opted to study Medical Laboratory Science, when asked for my choice of course during the selection interview process. My other options were Medicine or Computer Science. When the lists of successful candidates for admission was released, I saw my name listed under Bio-Medical Engineering. Out of curiosity, I later discovered the course was combination of Computer Science and Medicine. I from there developed interest in Bio-Medical Engineering, when I confirmed that, it was the course I was offered to study.
What did you do differently to excel among your mates?
- It will interest you to know that, I wrote about five manuscript for publications and attended several national and international conferences. I participated in three science exhibitions with my final year project and emerges winner in all of the exhibitions.
One major thing I could still remember is that, the Indian education system is vast and ahead of the Nigerian system of education. I adopted a very firm and active system of reading topics ahead of lectures, review what I was thought in the class immediately I returned from classes and also read every day, even if it’s a single sub-topic.
How did your parents react when they got the news that you won the first African silver medal?
- Though, I lost my mum since 2015, but my dad is still alive and, I am living with my uncle as my guardian. My father and my uncle were really happy and they were overwhelmed by emotion because, of what I did. They cherish my achievement, reiterated their pride in me and crowned it all, with prayers for more academic laurels, divine knowledge and excellent God’s blessings always.
Why do you think students fail examinations?
- Students fail, due to either negligence or other reasons such as financial factors which will hinder there focus, environmental factors and even an unfavorable system. A system where a Professor is boasting that people have failed his course without feeling guilty of not been a good teacher. This is a typical example of a bad system and reason why students fail. I experienced this when I was going through my National Diploma in Science Laboratory Technology at Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto.
What are your take home from your academic sojourn in India that you think will add values to Nigeria education system?
- One of the major take home from my sojourn in India, was the use of their mother tongue in teaching at the elementary stages. This, no doubt, enable easy and quick assimilation and understanding on the part of the kids.
Significantly, I adopted this and, it worked for me. It stood out as a major reason behind the enviable feat I achieved as first African silver medallist at Integral University, Lucknow.
How does this work for me? I simply translate all I am taught in Bio-Medical Engineering into Hausa language, which quicken and broaden my assimilation and understanding capacity. Work is on-going steadily to maximize this wonderful experience as, I am working to translate and publish all I learnt in India on Bio-Medical Engineering into INJINIYANCIN KIMIYAR LAFIYA, to enlighten and eliminate major doubts of many hausa speaking natives who will want to pursue or understand Bio-Medical Engineering.
Aside the book you are working on, what next?
- Well, right now, I am anxiously waiting to be mobilize for the mandatory NYSC scheme and immediately, I am done with the scheme, I look forward to return to the classroom and maximize the Msc and Ph.D scholarship sponsorship awarded me, on behalf of Sokoto state government by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, when he hosted all of us sixty-seven medical and medical related courses Indian graduate returnees.
I am very desirous of this further studies because it will impacted meritoriously on my proposed book, INJINIYANCIN KIMIYAR LAFIYA.