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Going Home Again: 3L Student Musah Abubaker’s Journey Back to Africa

Musah Abubaker3L Musah Abubaker’s inspiring journey from the United States to Botswana’s Ministry of Education has helped shape his career path.

Cincinnati, OH – “I was fortunate enough to come to the greatest country in the world, and I thought to myself, oh my gosh, finally: I’m able to escape,” recalled Musah Abubaker about his adventure to the United States nine years ago.

Abubakar, now a third-year student, arrived in the United States from Ghana on June 3, 2008. He spent his first few years in the U.S working in many different jobs, including some factories. In 2012, Abubakar went back to school to finish the economics degree he started in Ghana a few years earlier, completing his undergraduate studies at The Ohio State University. However, he was not totally satisfied, and the same ambition that led him to move to the US pushed him to continue his pursuit for grander opportunities.

“I did well in economics at OSU, but I still felt like at that point I couldn’t see myself or call myself an economist,” he said. “I know I’ve studied economics, but I thought about what I can do and be proud that it was my profession. It just kept coming back to me time and time again that I wanted to be a lawyer.”

Abubakar was cautious about the obstacles that would lie ahead. Living in a completely new country only a couple years, he was faced with many uncertainties. “I thought, ‘You are from Ghana with this accent going to law school. What are you going to do with that?’” he said about himself. “I knew that I wanted do it anyway. I knew becoming a lawyer is what I wanted to do. I believed that it was better to try doing what I loved to do and fail, than just run away from it because I had some insecurities.”

Abubakar determined to come to the College of Law and enrolled in Fall 2015. Soon after, he became a fellow with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. And he was eager for the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

“I really believe anyone who belongs to the law community should have a passion to make a difference,” said Abubakar. “If that desire is not there, anyone will be demoralized by the experience.”

Back to Africa
After completing his 1L year, Abubaker had the chance to extern abroad through Urban Morgan’s well-known international training program for students. He decided to return to the continent he left years earlier, to work at the Ministry of Education and Skills Development in Botswana.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development, a governmental organization in Botswana, provides guidance to decision makers and planners at all levels of government to improve the education sector in Botswana with the goal of developing an efficient education system. The Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan was approved in 2015, which allowed the Ministry to oversee the challenges facing the education system and propose various strategies, programs, and activities to adress these challenges over a five-year span. Abubakar was one of many who contributed to the facilitation of this plan by visiting schools, talking to teachers and students, and reviewing documents for his supervisors.

Abubakar takes pride the fact that he was one of many people able to shape the future of the country. “I got up every morning, knowing that the work that I’m doing at the Ministry is not just for some kind of self-gratification; it is something that is really needed,” he said. “People really appreciated it. I felt like I was really contributing to the development of this young country that just celebrated their 50th anniversary of independence last year. It was really rewarding, knowing that after one year of law school, the work I was doing made an impact on this country.”

Musah AbubakerYou Can Go Home Again
Abubakar spent ten weeks at his externship in Botswana, all of which amounted to an unforgettable experience. Though the externship consumed most of his time in Africa, there was another destination on his agenda. Botswana is over 2,500 miles away from his home country of Ghana. The distance did not deter him from visiting his childhood home, however.

“Eight years. I hadn’t seen my brothers or my sisters until then,” he said. “The whole experience was very big for me, because it gave me the opportunity to meet with my family after eight years. That is not necessarily part of what I did at the Ministry of Education, but that, of course, was very important to me.”

As he traveled around Africa, he couldn’t help but see the potential in the youth. Abubakar knew that he was once just like them, and he knew his story could serve as an influence for those around him. “Sometimes I just wanted to see the rest of the country, and I enjoy interacting with ordinary people,” said Abubakar. “Sometimes I would go out with my friends and talk to the community. I met these kids and I thought they were quite interesting, you know, because I’m from Ghana.

“As soon as saw them, it came into my mind that I used to be just like these kids too. I used to run around, dress similar, act similar. I said, ‘Let me take a picture and maybe they can too be inspired by it.’ They were just random kids but I thought that could have easily been me 18 years ago.”

Abubakar’s life adventures reminds everyone around him that dreams are attainable. Though the pursuit of happiness may come with sacrifice, Abubakar’s story serves as a message of reassurance that hard work, dedication, and bravery can pay off in ways unimaginable.

The Future as a US Citizen
Abubakar took the step to become a US citizen. After completing this challenge, he sees more and more doors opening for his future in law.

“Lately I’ve been thinking about finding a job as a foreign service officer,” he said. “I believe my work in Botswana helped me to see that that type of job will probably be most suitable for me. If I hadn’t been there I probably wouldn’t have even had that realization.”

Abubakar remains thankful and appreciative of the experiences he has had in the US. He believes the externship, particularly, has completely changed his world-view. Looking toward the future, he feels closely tied to American values, and hopes to continue the fight for human rights and justice across the globe.

“It was important for me to study abroad,” said Abubakar. “I think going to Botswana opened doors for me that I couldn’t even have imagined. I’m able to imagine the world beyond Cincinnati, beyond the Untied States, and now I know that I can be of help and of service to people. That is one thing that I have found. I believe being there gives you a broad view of the world – at least broader than what I’ve imagined. So now that I am fully as American as possible, I want to find a job representing the interest of America.”

By: Kyler Davis, communication intern
Publication Date: June 1, 2017