Each month, you can learn about one of the WFC’s visiting International Fellows who has been selected for a six-month assignment to collaborate with forestry practitioners here in the Pacific Northwest. The Fellows are passionate, engaged in their local communities, and committed to driving change in forest management practices around the globe.
Where are you from?
I am a native of Sagamu, Ogun State but work in Lagos State. That is in the southwest – the Yoruba speaking part of Nigeria.
You’ve been here in the United States for two months so far. Tell us a little bit about your journey.
This is my first time in the U.S. and my first time being outside of Nigeria! Before landing in Portland, I travelled through North Africa and spent one day experiencing Morocco. Then I flew to New York, Philadelphia, Denver, and then finally made it to Portland. It was quite an adventure through six airports.
What attracted you to the World Forest Institute Fellowship Program?
I’ve always been keen on affordability in housing as a fundamental right. Related to this, is the need for Nigerians to think outside the box; going beyond using conventional sandcrete, concrete, and rebar for construction. There are a lot of local resources that are untapped! While I was researching this on the Internet, I learned, through the World Forest Institute, about some other green building materials such as bamboo, Cross-Laminated Timber, and glulam and the construction innovations that are developed with these materials in the Pacific Northwest. I later discovered the opportunity to work with the Portland-based World Forestry Center.
What were you doing before you arrived in Portland?
I’m a licensed Architect back home. I develop client briefs, produce architectural schematic designs, work with consultants to make construction designs, seek approval from government agencies, and do site inspections. One of my famous projects is a 1,500-person capacity auditorium in Ogun State. I also recently designed and supervised a car dealership project in Lagos.
What’s on your wish list of things to accomplish while working at the World Forestry Center?
I believe that bamboo – which is a highly renewable resource growing in our local communities back home – is an incredible opportunity for ceilings, floors, and rain screens and in some cases wall panels in Nigeria. Utilizing this resource is paramount to improving the housing situation and making housing more affordable and economically beneficial to local communities. By the end of my fellowship, I want to have the practical, technical understanding of how to transform bamboo culms into laminated bamboo for construction – primarily for floor and ceiling finishes and lightweight timber construction for building construction. This is what I am most excited about implementing back home.
What’s one of your most exciting observations so far?
Two things. The emerging movement of 12-story building made entirely out of timber products. Second, American society is incredibly cohesive and a well integrated system. It has been shaped to function over time much like the system of the human body. Commuters have many options in getting around town. The MAX line is so functional and integrated with Google such that you can literally expect the MAX or bus to arrive in exact time as shown on the Google map. That is simply not possible in my country. I hope we get there someday!
What do you miss the most about home?
I miss my family – my two boys and my wife. My oldest son turns five in November. I promised him that I would be home in time to celebrate his birthday.