How Some OFWs Celebrate Christmas in Nigeria

                      By Vic Odarve

We know that celebrating Christmas many miles away from home is not as grand as it is in our own country, but Pinoy expats here in Nigeria are trying hard to keep traditions alive.

Father Edeh,founder of Madonna University, joined Pinoy Expats in Christmas celebration

Father Edeh, the founder  of Madonna University, joined Pinoy Expats during Christmas celebration

Like some of the Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) in other parts of the world, we are trying to make Christmas festivities look like home; by adding a Filipino touch to an otherwise Nigerian Christmas holiday season.

Back home, if we spend quality time with our families in malls and parties, here in Nigeria we do have our own Christmas party adorn with Christmas tree and lights. During the party, everyone is talking about the things they could be doing with their loved ones if they were in the Philippines, and as usually we have fun games and a sumptuous dinner for Christmas. This develops camaraderie and a feeling of extended family members in a small Filipino community of 19 expats.

Supper after the Christmas fun games

Supper after the Christmas fun games

If we celebrate Christmas season as early as the month of September at home, here in Nigeria begins only in December. We are preoccupied with our daily works and begin to feel the air of Christmas few weeks before December 25. Some Pinoys manage to attend the usual simbang gabi tradition, attend some office parties, and join invitations from religious gatherings and occasions.

Since time immemorial, Pinoy wherever they live, a Christmas time is not complete without a lechon. Here, lechon, a distinctive Pinoy delicacy, was served days before Christmas day…thanks from the December birthday celebrants. What we really miss are our families and friends; Christmas carolers at your homes, and the native suman, bibingka, and malls sensational Christmas decorations.

Fun games

   Fun games

Although we miss our families and friends, we still connect them with video calling on the eve of Christmas day through skype, viper or Facebook. The Christmas season is a time of peace and joy. And we must be all thankful that we are healthy; and the most important part is that we provide our family needs back home; for the betterment of our lives. There is always a time for everyone and that someday we have to celebrate Christmas with our families and loved ones together!

Merry Christmas! Greetings from Nigerians OFWs!

Large Class in Math…A Challenge!

                                   By Vic Odarve

Due to a large number of students in math class, professors face a difficult task on how the students participate in the discussions, express the scientific approach to problem-solving in its simplest terms, and absorb the important steps and techniques through listening. In a classroom setting, students’ active participation during discussion makes sense in order to get the activities engaging and interesting. Expressing the step by step solutions through various illustrations and examples enables the students to grasp the methods and applications of how the principles work in math. Since lectures are usually meant as a medium of communication in large classes and listening is the best way to capture the message the professor want to emphasize, getting the crucial points poses a problem for many students. Unknown to many, most African universities allowed hundred to a thousand students in a class. Last semester, my courses usually had 200- 400 students in a Math class. It is indeed a challenging task!

Owing to a large number of students, math professors do often use Power Point presentations of lectures on the topics being discussed. This means less participation of the students; few opportunities for every student to ask questions. Most often only a few number of questions can be entertained. In a college setting, lecture courses seldom

Math class of 275 students

Math class of 275 students- Nigerian University

have a group study. So every student must stick their eyes and ears in the presentation. But occasionally students are too crowded in theater-style lecture halls, where classes are held. To build a class engaging through students’ participation is a challenge both for lecturers and students!

Since math courses are discussed as equations and numerical expressions, conveying the methods or techniques to students in solving problems and illustrating its theories and principles usually pose problems to lecturers. Because of the large class size, there is less opportunity for everyone to express and share ideas with the lecturers or with the classmates. Thus, students will likely have less opportunity to speak personally with the lecturers; the professor may not even know their names and how much more on the personal level. But on the other hand, students develop to take on more responsibility for their learning and learn the material more independently. It is indeed a challenge!

Engineering class with 28 students - Medium class size

Engineering class with 28 students – Davao City, Philippines

The effectiveness to grasp the important points during lectures is another problem. There are fewer opportunities for class discussion and less time for students who are eager to interact with their classmates and professors. There are some students who prefer a more social setting to learn comfortably. Classroom problem management arising from students behavioral problems that disrupt classes is amplified. In some cases, lecturers may not give enough assignments or quizzes to measure how far the students absorb the lessons.  It is a challenge for having a large number of students!

Some school administrators believe that there is no ideal class size for college freshmen courses. They believe that class size, large or small, can be effective and inspiring. They also believe that a quality of professors can make a huge difference in any courses, no matter what the college class size is. It can be said that it is worth attending a large class size with a great and charismatic math lecturer who makes lectures engaging and interesting rather than sitting with small class with a professor who has a reputation of being uninspiring and dull.

It is true that by reducing class size would mean additional lecturers. This means more money is needed. In an African setting, math class sizes consist of several hundred students.

I was there teaching in one of the Nigerian universities for the past several years. It is, indeed, a huge challenge for the lecturers!

Practice Makes Perfect in Math

By Vic Odarve

To practice is to learn. That is learning by doing! And so is mathematics! The same principle can be applied to pass the course in mathematics! An old adage “Practice makes perfect” holds true. After the classroom illustrative examples, solved step by step by the teacher, students must strive hard at home to practice solving by themselves with the aid of the notes. Notes will be put aside only if their confidence is building up and that they can do it by themselves. Teachers often told the students “Don’t stop practicing until you can perfect it!” That’s it!


Classroom lecture

Practice working out the solution after classroom can be difficult for some students. But if they continue working on the same examples, chances are they can do it perfectly. It can be developed into a habit later. It is often suggested to read and rework the exercises before going to bed and refresh at early morning before going to school.

Difficult exercises in mathematics can be visualized and understood easier by

Engineering students Madonna University, Nigeria, Africa

Engineering students-Practice makes math perfect
Madonna University, Nigeria, Africa

breaking down to its simplest forms. But the visualization and better understanding can be achieved only by constant practice. This is the way of life… being an engineering student. Actual practice works best in mathematics because the solution involves several processes before getting into its final form. Its algorithm. The more you practice the more you understand about why the steps are being done. If done habitually you can explore more techniques and better approaches on

Workbooks are designed for practice solving Math problems

Workbooks are designed for practice solving Math problems

what to do with the mathematical exercises or problems. The more you discover its secrets, the more you love mathematics. One will find this learning method quite fascinating just like wormholes… believed to be existed in our planet and were used by alien to travel to the distant universe!


Teachers often told engineering students to do constant practice in solving mathematical exercises or problems whatever written on the classroom. These ways teachers are molding students to create a strong study habits. That is actual practice or hands on! But sometimes students feel uncomfortable when teachers press them to do more practice at home. There were times when teachers reminded students to do constant practice, they could see their eyebrows rose up and their hairs also rose at their backs. It’s something eerie! Teachers know best that by building this habit they are building the students character and lifestyle. Teachers also want to create the student’s landscape and its environment that they are supposed to live in! These teachers are really working hard to help weak learners and by doing so they feel happy to give the students the best education possible! It is happiness in giving your best to the profession you are in. The great teacher Saint Luke, who traveled far and wide with Saint Paul, worked hard in the early expansion of the Christian church. Thus, he once said,

“In every way I have shown you that by so working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, “Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.”- Acts 20, 35


Constant practice in solving exercises and problems develops the skills on mastery and understanding mathematics. These, too, in turn, are the basic ingredients in developing students to analytical and critical thinking skills. That is, breaking any difficult problems down to its simplest forms. This is the strategy that works. In all human endeavors, practice makes perfect!

World War 3 is on the Horizon

                                                By Vic  Odarve

Let’s look at the world today. Ingredients for the World War 3 are there. Nationalist sentiments and patriotic displays, major powers lined up against one another, and American strength looks weakening. Like Hitler, Putin sentiments of Russian-speaking people residing in his neighboring countries are high that he wants to rescue them on the pretext of being oppressed. Russia and China are in good terms forming allies with some authoritarian regimes throughout the world while the United States has its European and NATO partners. American strengths policing the world which worked well since 1945 up to the present are looking more fragile than ever before.

Over a bottle of beer

Over a bottle of beer. When war comes, all gatherings will be put to an end.

Russia’s concerned about its Russian-speaking people in Ukraine’s ended in dramatic invasion and eventually annex Crimea, and now switching his head on the Russian-speaking Eastern part of Ukraine. Strong militarily, Russia flexes his muscles supporting separatists from its weaker neighbors and sometimes through intimidation, covert activities, and if by chance, invasion. The emotion to unite all Russian speaking people to his fold is the same old story that ignites the two previous world wars. A world war can start with a tiny skirmish like Ukraine. This display of nationalism and patriotism is one of the major ingredients that brought the world into flames.

Nuclear Bomb

Nuclear Bomb

As always in our history, major power group and align themselves, bounded by treaties with common understanding and interests working for them like a brotherhood. Most often, like the forces of good and evil as world’s eternal players, major powers look for a competitive edge over the other with an elaborate arsenal of defenses and secret weapons. Groups exert the influence in politics and trades and other deadly games in countless ways, forming a landscape that sometimes threatens world peace. Both develop strengths as well as preparing to rescue if one of the members is threatened by his enemies. Therefore, peace may become fragile as what is today.

The peace that Jesus gives is not fragile like the peace the world gives.

The peace that Jesus gives is not fragile like the peace the world gives.

Lately, Russia has reminded the west not to interfere with their business because of his nuclear arsenal. China, on the other hand, is trying to dominate the Asian region with its ambition in claiming almost all of the South China Sea. The same with Russia, she bullies her small neighbors to claim the islands as their own despite against the laws on the International Convention of the Sea. Both countries are trying to disregard the established international laws backed by the United Nations. Among the members of their alliance are countries believed to possess nuclear arms such as Iran, and North Korea. A small miscalculation leads to nuclear Armageddon.
Since 1945 up to the present, the world has relatively experienced peace. Thanks, largely in part to the American strength that flexes its muscle through diplomacy and militarily in confronting disputes among nations coupled with the United Nations. But technological advances have brought rapid arms race. American strength looks more fragile. And the way things the world is going on, the rapid rise of Russia and China both in arms strength and influence, and disregard to the International law and the United Nations, the United States as world policeman for several decades seems to be lost.

World peace is now fragile as in before World War 2. But wars are part of our future. It is already written in the Bible and has been shaping our history. But Jesus warned us and left an invitation to mankind before going to his Father in heaven that his peace is not fragile like the peace the world gives… it is an eternal peace.

“Peace be with you; I give you my peace. Not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid.” John 14:17

Today, there is a growing concern that peace may come to an end. It is fragile. World war 3 is on the horizon!