Growing up, I learnt in time that eating during class hours was not permitted but that was different for the freshmen at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in their first day in class.
Almost oblivious of what would happen, the students barely over 35 in Class 113, at the Communication and Multimedia School, keenly listen to their tutor when the President, Dawn Dekle walks in along with other members of the faculty bearing apples.
What seemed like a serious learning atmosphere swiftly turned to a feast of big, red and green apples as they glitter from their baskets. With some courtesy, Dekle called for a short session with the students as she explained the long established tradition of sharing apples to new students of the university – a symbol of knowledge sharing by AUN.
She said, “Ever since I have been president and day one of every semester, we always bring apples, red and green ones to our students. Apple is the fruit of knowledge and in the United States, students bring apples to their teachers but here we bring apples to our students. So we do things a little different.”
Bewildered with excitement as the apples are being shared round, students clutched to placards shared along with the apples to register their feelings about the university. They’ve got inscriptions line, ‘Welcome to AUN’, ‘I love AUN’, and ‘Keep calm and enjoy your Day One’.
One other reason for sharing the apples is to ease the tension of the students taking classes for the first time.
“It is just a way to welcome them and make them feel good about it. The first time is always full of excitements, so we just want to share those excitements with them. May be going forward, they will start bringing apples for their teachers,” Dekle explained the tradition which is not fading out soon as she moved around the various classes sharing the fruit to students.
That was barely 24 hours after about 200 of them were inducted (matriculated) into the university. Some of the 186 fresh undergraduates, and 14 postgraduates who pledged to become their best during their stay, shared their excitement with Daily Trust.
Computer Science student, Sukoanto Ogun from Kogi state scored the faculty and the environment quite high days after he arrived the campus. “Am expecting to graduate in all round academics while I fit well into the society,” he said.
For Cameroonian Hedrine Hyginus and an Economist in the making, her dream of attending AUN came true. She said: “Ever since I was in high school I have heard of AUN and planned of coming here and am happy am here at last to study economics. If am able to concentrate and get good grades, I could give Cameroon that change it needs.”
Another Computer Science student, Koplama Gatelina said, “The environment is clean and it will really motivate us to feel comfortable and prepare for study better. It’s a home away from home.”
For Jonathan Amuku who is at AUN, Yola to study Business Administration, it was courage that brought him to the northeast with the widely reported insurgency issue. “I was scared at first but the school has shown us that we can feel free. In the next four years, I hope to achieve a lot and get good grades,” Amuku said.
It will be five years of stay for Chinemenma Ugoji who is admitted to study Law. But she has plans for these years: “I will try my best to help people in the community through clubs and the opportunities provided by the university,” she noted.