It takes a whole village to raise a child. – Igbo (Nigeria) Proverb


By: Sarai Exil

It takes a whole village to raise a child because a child is an active social being who interacts with people who are not his or her parents. With each interaction, it is imperative that the child receive the same messages as to what is right and wrong, what is valued and what is to be rejected, and what is safe. It is the shared values of the village, the shared commitment to each child as a loved individual and future citizen of the village, and the shared sense of collective responsibility that underscore the truth of why it takes a whole village to raise a child. If the village does not support the proper raising of a child, then a parent has a difficult road indeed, and the child is at risk. It also takes a whole village to raise a child because a village is comprised of a diverse array of people of all ages and experiences, each of whom has something to teach a child. Similarly, “it takes a village” to achieve any large civic goal. It takes a shared vision, a set of shared values, and a shared sense of collective responsibility for the common good.

The idea of founding stories seems useless, when I first entered the gates of City Year. I guess you could say I hadn’t quite bought into the culture. It might have been because of the Senior Corps members bouncing around explaining how we have to keep throwing starfish back into the water. Our first two weeks, I heard about lighthouses, quotes, soup, and much more in an enlightening way. As I sit here now surrounded by my beautiful peers, I realize how vital founding stories are to our year of service.

Six months ago, I didn’t understand the founding story “it’s takes a whole village to raise a child.” But today many of us stayed after work to celebrate the baby shower of one of our peers. I’m in shock at how connected we are as we sit here: the boys sitting in the back of the room watching the girls coo over the baby outfits, our staff teaching us the ways of baby showers, the new intern smiling and laughing like she’s been here for decades. Each and every one of us makes up this City Year Columbus family. A room full of idealists who have decided to take responsibility for the common good, with different experiences, various ages, shared goals, and shared visions. This new baby is coming into a world full of chaos, but in this one room sits more love than anyone could ever imagine.

 

If only every child could receive the same …

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3 thoughts on “It takes a whole village to raise a child. – Igbo (Nigeria) Proverb

  1. Dear Ms. Exil,

    I am the chairperson of a not-for-profit profit primary school in Nigeria. We are organising our annual Family Fun Fair and our mantra for 2013 is “It Takes A Whole Village To Raise A Child”, and I am collating material for our “Familizine” which is a collection of articles etc relating to this theme, that is distributed free to up to 1000 people at the event.

    Please let us know if you would permit the parent teacher association of our to publish the following excerpt from your wonderfully explanatory article in the “Familizine”:
    “It takes a whole village to raise a child because a child is an active social being who interacts with people who are not his or her parents. With each interaction, it is imperative that the child receive the same messages as to what is right and wrong, what is valued and what is to be rejected, and what is safe. It is the shared values of the village, the shared commitment to each child as a loved individual and future citizen of the village, and the shared sense of collective responsibility that underscore the truth of why it takes a whole village to raise a child. If the village does not support the proper raising of a child, then a parent has a difficult road indeed, and the child is at risk. It also takes a whole village to raise a child because a village is comprised of a diverse array of people of all ages and experiences, each of whom has something to teach a child. Similarly, “it takes a village” to achieve any large civic goal. It takes a shared vision, a set of shared values, and a shared sense of collective responsibility for the common good.”

    It would work beautifully as a general introduction. We would of course attribute it to you and if you like indicate that it is culled from the City Year Columbus website.Please let me know as soon as possible, by return of mail. We can send you a soft copy of the full Familizine before or after publication for your sign off if you prefer.

    Many many thanks in anticipation.

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