Gordon travels the globe

MINOT, N.D. – Minot State University’s Spencer Gordon spent his summer vacation exploring the first 20 years of his father’s life, a journey that took him across the globe to Jos, Nigeria.

“When you think of Africa, Nigeria is pretty much at the equator,” Gordon said. “But Jos is on a plateau, so it rains a lot more and it’s actually a lot cooler, so when I got there I was like, what, it’s not that hot? So that was pretty cool and unexpected.”

It was on this plateau that his father, Stephen, spent his childhood years.

“The whole reason they were in Nigeria was because my grandpa was part of the British government and he went there as a principal for a school,” Gordon said. “My grandma is originally from Wolf Point, Montana, I think my grandpa is from Newcastle, England. They were from different sides of the world and came to Nigeria.”

From hand-feeding an elephant tree branches to learning songs in Nigerian Pidgin, Gordon also had the opportunity to reconnect with individuals from his father’s past. Stephen spent his youth playing with the children of the household cook and has remained close to the family.

“They’ve come to the States before, but we’ve never been to Nigeria. One of the cook’s kid’s sons lives over here, his name is George,” Gordon said. “He’s actually a big part of our family even if he’s not blood-related. It’s this whole entwining of everything.”

Creating relationships appears to be a Gordon family trait.

Gordon made his leadership debut at the University this fall, being named to the 2019 Minot State Football Leadership Council.

“Spencer is in his second year with the team, and he has displayed the type of leadership qualities we are looking for in our student-athletes. Not only is he ultra-competitive, but he’s a hard worker on and off the field and continually strives for greatness,” football head coach Mike Aldrich said. “Spencer also serves as a member of our Football Leadership Council, where he not only helps in building our team’s culture, but he is also learning how to become an even stronger leader.”

“The coaches want to implement a player-lead team,” said the biology major, who has plans for medical school and a career in neurology. “We are trying to change the culture; the players are doing it. It’s built from within.”

Culture. Another word that can be associated with the Gordon family.

While the summer visit to Jos gave Gordon insight into his dad’s childhood, this wasn’t his first trans-continental experience. A trip to South Africa in first grade and another to India in third grade gave him early exposure to different cultures.

“My dad wanted us to see the world because he’s seen the world,” Gordon said. “If you just stay in the U.S. and that’s all you’ve ever known, you kind of lose an aspect of the world. And it helps keep yourself in check. This is the world, not just us.”

What he remembers most from his childhood travels was the lesson in gratitude.

“Water is a big thing, like you don’t know if you are going to have clean water. Or laundry is another thing, it is just not a commodity,” he said. “When you come back home, you realize all that you have that you should be thankful for.

“Traveling will give you a different perspective. It really humbles you a lot.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 10/25/19   

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