I flip patties on one side and he drops fries in oil on the other side. Our heads turn toward the screen monitoring the orders. We share the hot kitchen at Sonic on Mondays; we share the ball on the court on Tuesdays. We joke about the human brain in Sociology class on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We both TGIF, then relax on the weekends. It doesn’t matter what we do, my older brother, Stephen, and I are always together. He’s had a profound impact on me. I trust him and have learned to trust myself by being around him.
Our trust was strengthened during our 2007 visit to our parents’ village in Nigeria. My brother, sister, mother and I landed in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Stephen and I did not know what to expect, but we took in everything, from the weird colored taxis, to the dirt roads they drove on.
Outside the airport, every officer carried a machine gun. This made us wary of the different laws and our safety. We both wondered, is this place dangerous enough for machine guns to be carried in the ready position? Our destination was a small village in Abia, a southeastern state fourteen hours from the capital. It took a while to find cabs and when we did, there was a lot of negotiating between the two drivers and my mother. They spoke in Igbo, a native language of Nigeria. Stephen and I did not understand what was being said, but we did not trust the drivers, because they were loud, angry and very argumentative. I told Stephen that the situation looked “shady” and he said, “we’ll be fine if we watch our backs”.
Having agreed to a price, we left immediately. We needed two cars so Stephen rode with my sister and I rode with our mother to ensure that we could protect them if the drivers tried to harm us. A few hours later, we stopped at an inn. We would have liked to continue driving, but in Nigeria, armed robberies and murders are so common that driving at night is very dangerous. The drivers insisted that we keep our luggage in the car, but Stephen and I refused. We knew that it would be too easy for them to abandon us. While my sister and mother slept, we took turns watching the taxis and listening intently for the snoring drivers next door. The drivers never did try to steal our things, but our teamwork and diligence set the tone for our trip. On that trip, I learned that teamwork and strategy are a good answer for fear and uncertainty. I learned how capable I can be even in a dangerous, foreign country.
Throughout my life Stephen has always been there. He has impacted me in many ways. He has shown me how brave I can be and how smart I am. He has shown me that I am dependable and trustworthy. Best of all, he has shown me that in real life situations, I can make it. Stephen leads by example and I’m a better person for it.
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