Behind Nky Onyewuenyi’s Smile

Just Keep On Smilin

Just Keep On Smilin’

Ana Gutierrez, Entertainment Editor

Anchors talk of war in the Middle East while a banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen reports the death of a man during a robbery.

Thirty seconds pass. Next story.

A person in a picture holds a sign supporting racism, the anchors keep talking.

Thirty seconds pass. Next story.

Women crying, men fighting, children starving.

Thirty seconds pass. Next story.

This is CNN. This is NBC. This is KHOU. This is FOX. Regardless of the political affiliation or the face you see on the screen, this is news.

As someone who grew up in Nigeria, a place generally portrayed as being in constant turmoil, Nky Onyewuenyi has learned to see the bright side of things in the midst of chaos.

“Every time I turn on the news people are dying, there’s gun shootings, other countries are at war, and here I am complaining about how I have two tests tomorrow,” Nky said. “I don’t have that much to complain about, so why even bother.”

There are 4785.6 nautical miles between the United States and Nigeria, yet they are worlds apart regarding culture. A plane ride connecting the two countries hardly forms a bond strong enough to ease the transition in between, and Nky is one to testify.

“I didn’t want to face the fact that I had moved and left everything,” Nky said. “All my friends were there and this was before Facebook came out. I would say it took me until high school to settle down.”

Growing up there laid the foundation for what she would learn about life, and coming to the US hit this base layer like an earthquake, molding it into what she knows today.

“I believe that if you smile enough and if you pretend to be happy enough, maybe, somehow, you will fool yourself into thinking that you’re happy,” Nky said. “If you’re suffering, smiling about it and just thinking of everything you already have makes the situation a little bit better. So if everyone…counted their blessings life would be easier.”

People will keep dying, fighting, and struggling every second of the day. Workers will be fired. Wallets will be emptied. Tests will be failed. All these things will keep happening unconditionally, and it is your responsibility to let it teach you or tear at you. What is the source of your hope? What is the reason for your smile?

“I smile because even though I have seen people who are ungrateful, and I’ve seen war, I still see good people. And that tells me that there is hope,” Nky said.

Remember that you never know what the kid next to you is going through. Do not try to find it and fix it, because often times issues cannot be mended. Show that you care, recognize that you do not know if it will be okay, but promise that tomorrow is a new day. Realize that the sun shines on everyone and remember that pain is not picky with its recipients. Remind them that they are enough, and tell yourself the same. If anything, look around and realize that you are here for a purpose.

“Give them as much encouragement as [you] can and tell them to pray, whatever religion they are,” Nky said. “And to keep faith…to keep close to people, [and] to not bottle up inside.”