The letter Olivia showed me was an invitation to a competition opened to all teenagers of Nigeria. Interested teenagers would have to submit an entry in any of the following categories; songs, poetry, drawing, essay writing. All entries must be based on as theme, ‘stop stigmatization of people living with the virus’. If short – listed, entrants would make a presentation before a panel of judges during which five of the best entries in each category would be selected and showcased before a live audience (including dignitaries) in California, U.S.A. That means if my friends and I get to be among the best five in any category, we get an all-expense – paid trip to California, U.S.A.
Olivia decided to submit a song entry called ‘MY STORY’ on stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS Stephanie said she would draw a scenario of stigmatization of persons living with HIV/AIDS which she called ‘EASE THE PAIN’ and I resolved to write a poem called ‘SHOW THEM SOME LOVE’ which would be centered on motivating people to stop stigmatization. The submission of entries closes on Thursday. During prep, we told our dorm girls about the competition. Many laughed at us saying it was too good to be true. Linda, even said we should concentrate on our WASCE than dwelling on what she called ‘California Dreams’.
During break, the three of us went to our Health Counsellor for more information on people living with HIV and people living with AIDS. She elaborated on the full definitions of terms: HIV and AIDS, modes of transmission of HIV, ways by which HIV cannot be contracted and ways of supporting those infected with the virus. I must admit, the forty minutes we spent with our counsellor was quite enlightening. After school, we proceeded to the library where we read some books and discovered and discovered new terminologies to use when speaking about stigmatization, HIV or AIDS. For example, saying someone is an HIV patient is wrong, instead we say that, that person is living with HIV.
Gosh! Today was very exhaustive. After morning assembly, we had two practical classes and an oral English mock exam. To be sincere, I didn’t prepare for exam but I guess the previous prep classes and group discussions which I have been involved in really paid off. During break, Olivia, Stephanie and I really disappeared into our ‘California Dreams’. We thought of concepts and story lines which our different entries would be based and then suddenly, we started dreaming of winning the competition, travelling to California, meeting very important people and having a good time all by ourselves.
However, during prep, we had a tough time putting pen to paper and coming up with entries that would pass the criteria we assumed the judges would be using. At last, my poem, Olivia’s song and Stephanie’s elaborate drawing were ready. We had packaged neatly and safely kept.
At the time we retired to bed, it had dawned on me that achieving multiple goals at a time wasn’t easy at all in fact I thank God for the time management skills in had imbibed from Mum who runs a successful home front and still has an enviable career life.
Last night I dreamt of my present goals and how I achieved them all. Before we left for assembly, my friends and I prayed earnestly for God’s favor on inter – house sports, WASCE and the California competition. Olivia ended the prayer by saying ‘oh God, please let our California dreams come to pass’ of course, Stephanie and I chorused a loud AMEN to that.
During break, we went to school we went to our Principal who gave us reference letters as well as gate pass for us to leave the school to be able to post entries to the organization.
We got back just in time for the inter – house sports rehearsals. We had missed two revision classes on Organic Chemistry and Digestive System. During prep, we studied the topics we had missed, as we were sure to have questions on them during our exams.
Wow! In three days time, our WASCE would be starting. Our WASCE would starting. Writing poems is not as easy as reciting it, you know. After assembly, all ss3 students had to meet in the school hall for a brief on “the code of conduct” in the examination. During break, my friends and I decided to meet in the Agric lab where we worked on our song, drawing and poetry. Before lights off, our dorm girls went to the common room where we watched interviews of prominent celebrities in the fields of modelling, acting writing. It was quite exhilarating to discover that many of them were able to explore their innate talent and still excel in academics. That to me was food for thought.
My friends and I decided to visit home today and so, after morning inspection we left for home. I never knew I was terribly missed by my parents until mum and dad threw me in their arms and refused to let me go until I was close to suffocating. I told them of events happening around me and mum was pleased that I was learning to cope with multiple tasks at a time. She even patted me on the back and said “Finally, my daughter is learning how to be a successful woman!” Dad gave me words of encouragement and wisdom as to how to go about the examination ahead. I joined mum in preparing lunch and my friends arrived just in time to join us. We later watched a film titled ‘National Treasure’ which featured my best actor Nicholas Cage. Mum walked it on us and exclaimed “you girls have an important examination on Monday and here you are watching movies!’ Stephanie and I replied simultaneously, “All work no play makes three jolly friends, dull girls”. We all laughed but ended up reading for Monday’s examination.
After church today, I prepared lunch for five as I arranged with my friends at my place before leaving for school. Later, dad and mum gave us final advice and offered to drive us down to school. That would also afford them the opportunity of seeing Kaine, who is now a boarder. Just as we were about leaving, I remembered that I forgot my graph book on the bed so I ran back inside for it. On entering my room, I picked up the graph book, and suddenly I heard my name. The voice was not that of mum, dad or Kaine. Neither did it belong to Olivia or Stephanie. Out of curiosity and with a little bit of panic, I turned round only to come face to face with……..I’ll tell you in the next edition.