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Berea College, Kentucky’s Oasis of Diversity

Senior Psychology and Sociology major Florence Anyabuonwu is not used to carrying a book on her head while riding her bicycle. She just tried it one day this September, but she has balanced objects, such as an 88 pound bag of cement, on her head before.

Senior Florence Anyabuonwu carried a book on her head while riding to class her on bicycle.

A native of Ojoto-Uno, in Idenmili, south of east Nigeria, Florence lived most of her life in northern Nigeria. It was there that she learned to carry objects on her head.
According to Florence, people in Nigeria balance things on their heads to free up their hands for practical reasons.
Florence says that carrying things on the head is easier and more comfortable since it frees the hands to serve other purposes.
“Daily living was not particularly a bed of roses. We lived simply,” elaborated Florence.
Florence explained that carrying objects on her head was a survival skill. “Like everyone else, I walked four miles to church twice every week, six miles to market three times a week and five miles to school every day for six years while in high school.”
When asked what home means to her now that she lives in Berea, so far from Nigeria, Florence replies that she has come to see Berea as her home away from home. Here in Berea, she says she is “loved and accepted…just the way (she is).”
“Home is where you are unapologetically you,” she said.
“I am reminded that I am different through all the admiring stares I receive each time I balance things on my head. That serves as a constant reminder that I have something unique to offer to continue to make Berea College Kentucky’s oasis of diversity.”

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