Checking in with Uche
Uche Ufochukwu, through a partnership with Hope 4 Girls Africa and Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., is now a full time student juggling school and basketball practice. She is adjusting to life in U.S. and American basketball. “I had the pleasure of watching Uche play, and she was filled with energy and always had a smile on her face, ” says former professional basketball player and Olympian, Ugo Oha.
Uche hopes to become an accountant and WNBA player, helping others pursue and achieve her dreams, the same way others helped her. We wrote about Uche earlier on our blog, and we checked in with her recently about life, basketball and… snow!
Where are you from?
My family is from Anambra State, but I was born and raised in Benin, Nigeria.
You recently spent your first holiday in the US. How did you enjoy it?
It was very cold, but I am getting used to the weather. I had a tournament during the holidays, so I spent my holidays in South Carolina.
This was your first time ever experiencing snow. How was it?
From the movies I have watched, I always thought snow was solid. I thought it just keeps falling without being cold. When it snowed I went outside and was shocked at how freezing it was.
What was it like when you first arrived in the United States?
It wasn’t what I thought it would be. I watched so many American movies and it was nothing like the movies. Everything was totally different.
How have you managed being away from your family?
My dad calls me always. It has been hard but I am getting through.
How is your host family?
My host mum is great. I enjoy living with her. She makes sure that I am doing okay. I love her.
What is it like playing basketball in the United States?
Basketball in the United States is different from basketball in Nigeria. I had to learn to adjust because the rules are different. I am still adjusting.
What do you like most about playing basketball?
The passion. I just love the game. I don’t know. I can’t really express it. I just love basketball; it is the only sport I know that I am good at.
Is there another sport that you like to play other than basketball?
Volleyball. It is related to basketball. You have to learn how to jump high to get it over the net. You have to also learn ball control, and know how to pass the ball.
What is the most interesting thing you have learned here in the United States?
School and basketball practice are the most interesting I am learning. They are all different than Nigeria.
What is something that you learned in Nigeria that you have applied here in the United States?
I learned from my dad how to talk to my elders, and how to be respectful to people.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
I like to watch movies. My favorite movie is Ghost Rider and Coach Carter.
What University do you plan on attending in the near future, and what do you plan on studying?
I plan to attend Stanford, Oxford or Davidson. I would like to study accounting.
What profession do you hope to go into in the future?
I hope to become an accountant.
What classes are you taking in school right now? What’s your favorite class? What’s the most challenging? What’s your favorite part about your school? What’s your least favorite part?
I am taking French, chemistry, geometry, American literature, money management, social justice, and American history. Geometry is my favorite class. American literature is a challenge for me. Lunch is my favorite part about my school because I can take a break from writing and thinking. Homework is my least favorite part right now because I am still adjusting to the American way of studying.
Have you made many friends at school?
I’m not good at making friends, but my teammates are definitely my friends.
What has been the most difficult part about transitioning from life in Nigeria to life in the United States?
The most difficult part about the transition is my strong accent. People can’t understand me, so I have to talk slowly for people to hear and understand what I am saying.
What or who do you miss the most from Nigeria?
I miss Nigerian food, my family and my Nigerian teammates.
Who is your biggest role model from A2S? What is one lesson they have taught you that you feel is important to share with the people that will read this interview?
Chiney Ogwumike and Ugo Oha were my biggest role models from A2S. I was drawn close to Chiney Ogwumike because she was the same height as me. I later found out that she played for the WNBA. I learned a lot from her through A2S. She ultimately taught me that to be a good basketball player you have to work hard.