Transfer Student Project: Amadou's Story
Amadou transferred to Evergreen after studying for three years at the University of Dakar in Senegal. He learned about the college through his wife, who graduated from Evergreen before going to Africa to work. They lived overseas for a few years, and then decided to move to Olympia so that Amadou could pursue his studies. After a year, Amadou earned his Bachelor's degree, and has continued on in Evergreen's Master's in Public Administration program.
Download a Windows Media File with clips from an interview with Amadou. (This is a WMA file and should play on your computer using Windows Media Player)
For two years, Amadou lived in Ghana tutoring privately and working with expatriates in international organizations like USAID and UNICEF. Upon graduation, Amadou planned to undertake Evergreen’s Master in Teaching program because of his background as a language trainer. When he realized that the MIT program geared graduates toward teaching K-12, he decided against it, as his experience was only with adults. Thinking back on his interactions with USAID and UNICEF, Amadou recognized that the work he wanted to do was focused on social projects and development. “I realized the MPA will be more useful to me because with the changes I want to do. That will give me more opportunities to do it—more than the MIT—because I plan to ultimately go back [to Africa] to share my experience and help people there.”
Amadou’s conceptions of the potentials and limits of education were shaped by a strictly disciplined schooling in Senegal. “To tell the truth, I was really, really very surprised. I heard that you can take your destiny in your own hands—learn what you want to learn—and find a connection between [the two]. To resolve the disconnection between study and life, you have to learn what you want to learn… I was in a university where things are pretty much regimented: this is the program, and if you’re in the first year, this is what you have to take, and you have to take it. The curricula are predetermined, so there is no way to shape your study according to your needs… Evergreen believes in students. They believe that students are people that can bring something. It’s not a faculty member that will determine what you want to do in your life—he won’t be there.”
To say that Evergreen as an institution believes in students seems to personify what is inevitably a conglomeration of individuals, ideals, bureaucracies, statistics, funding, and State apparatus. However, the lived experience manifests a reflection of such lofty claims, as students, and even faculty, can enter into a co-learning environment in which peers’ interactions often determine the level of rigor and achievement. Seminar is an apt example. “I like the way the seminars are organized, and I wanted to learn because I wanted to learn what people think about me, what they think about my thoughts. I needed to know, to share experiences with them—people with whom I can discuss my ideas freely. It really gave me the opportunity. It was like a big family where people are having an open debate. That was really a good process for learning, and the most valuable experience was that students are interacting and sharing experiences. It is not where everybody’s coming to class to take something and go home and do individual work. You are part of the group: what you do, you’re going to share with your co-learners.”