After six years of teaching English literature and language in Nigeria, Kehinde Enilolobo found herself teaching again — not English, this time, but Yoruba — as one of U-M’s Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants for the academic year. She came to the university in August 2023 and now teaches with DAAS lecturer Dr. Gabriel Ayoola. In Nigeria, Enilolobo obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and a postgraduate degree in education. 

“After my master’s degree, I went to the north of Nigeria to serve for a year — that's a mandatory youth service program that every graduate in Nigeria has to pass through,” Enilolobo said. “I was in Kano (Nigeria) for a year, where I taught in a public school for older women who had not been given the opportunity to go to school as children.” 

In addition to her language teaching, Enilolobo founded the Keeping Her Safe Initiative, a non-governmental organization that teaches young women and girls about menstrual hygiene and sexual education in Nigeria. 

“In general, menstrual items — pads, tampons — are expensive, like truly, truly expensive,” Enilolobo said. “As a teacher, I've [seen] girls go through a lot of trauma because they don't have access to good pads. They use cotton, wools, and rags ... so [founding the organization] was more or less a call in the community, and I answered it.” 

Her work on Keeping Her Safe resulted in Enilolobo’s 2023 semifinalist position in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of the U.S. government’s Young African Leaders Initiative. While abroad, her goal with the organization is to maintain the structure, so that when she returns home, the work can continue. In the meantime, Enilolobo supplements her teaching at the university by taking various classes in American culture, academic writing, and English teaching for new and foreign learners. She also participates in cultural activities led by the International Institute’s African Studies Center

“They (African Studies Center) have taken us to places that I would never think to go to on my own: the Henry Ford Museum, the [Charles H. Wright Museum of] African American History,” Enilolobo said. “Thanks to them, I've been able to have a little bit of fun with my other responsibilities.” 

Enilolobo noted the differences in the educational system between the two countries, adding that it’s been a “pretty good journey” thus far. In her approach to teaching, she brings several specific strategies from her experience in Nigeria. 

“I make sure to listen to the students and not brush aside their concerns,” Enilolobo said. “In Nigeria, I did a lot of that, and I made sure my students felt heard in and outside the classroom. [I have been surprised by] the respect of the students — if anyone had told me that I would get that from American students, I’d think, no way, but that was pretty shocking and welcoming.”