May 1st is a work free day for most people in Nigeria but this year, it is anything but that for the students of Unilag. With exams a fortnight away, it was a perfect day to read till you drop. Cashing in on this, Afara Leadership Centre organized a 2-day study marathon for the students. The idea was to get the participants to study effectively for at least 8 hours each day in a clean, serene, comfortable environment especially now that the conditions in school are deplorable.
Day 1 was a big hit as the girls came in their numbers and studied. Actually, the girls had to theoretically run miles. The official distance of the marathon was 26.6 miles. With the 2 day study marathon, each person should be covering this mile at a finishing time of 16 hours of study. Hence each hour is 1.64 miles. They were to calculate and key in the number of hours done on the chart put up. The chart had columns for the number of miles done before and after lunch for each day. To add some supernatural flavor to the seemingly drab task of reading, they were encouraged to offer up miles for various intentions; exams success (definitely!), for Nigeria, the Chibok girls, their families, the Holy Father and so on. This was new for many people but it surely caught on. So they read and they prayed.
1.30 pm was time for lunch break and to key in the mileage. Those who had indicated interest had a quick lunch with the rest of the house….Pheeew! They sure needed to blow off some steam and we all got to know ourselves better. To ward off the postprandial grogginess we sat for a while to have a little chat. The girls were put on the hot seat. Each of the girls had to explain what they understood by this quote, “an hour of study, for a modern apostle, is an hour of prayer.” The explanations came in all shapes and sizes. Some were very hilarious, others thought provoking. We all gained new perspectives to this popular quote of St. Josemaria Escriva. Enough of the break: It’s back to the race with a renewed vigor. By the end of the day, some had gone half way, others much less but each person had made some progress.
The race continued on Saturday with more people and more determination. The girls took a little time off for lunch break and afterwards some joined in the seminar going on in the centre on LGBT issues affecting the family. Soon it was time up and we had a winner, Ukenazor Sylvia, who had done a total of 24.6 miles. Wow!
The girls had to fill an evaluation form and what did they not say.
“I READ A LOT! I can feel the smoke coming out of my head.”
“It was a huge struggle for me but seeing others reading gave me the motivation to keep reading.”
“This should be done more often, can we have another one next week?”
“I never knew that I could read for such a long stretch of time.”
“Now I understand better what God wants from me as a student; to study well.”
“I think this is the first time I have done any serious study in a long while and not on my bed too.”
“It was quite a novel experience for me and to top it all, I got to visit the Blessed Sacrament more than twice in a day.”
“The whole package was awesome; the lunch breaks, the chapel, the environment, the fan, the light, everything. I want to do it all over again.”
Everyone thought the idea of lunch break was ingenious and it was the best part of the day for some. Well, the marathon is officially over but the reading continues. Will there be another one soon? Let’s see. Good luck in the forthcoming exams!