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Thought you had it easy? University in Madagascar.

During my undergraduate years I had numerous foreign graduate student teachers. I struggled through my calculus class trying to understand what the heck my Middle Eastern professor was trying to say; it took me all semester just to figure out that when he said “the limit of A Capital is infinity”, the word “capital” wasn’t referring to some mysterious mathematical term. No, he just said that every time he used a letter that was capitalized. It didn’t help that my super nice but super non-English speaking TA named Harry (pronounced: Ahree) was equally incapable as an instructor.

To be honest, I was usually really annoyed that I was paying a lot of money to attend University, and that I was getting sub-par education in return. It frustrated me that I didn’t understand a concept because my teacher couldn’t convey an idea in English.

It was so easy for me to judge the situation when I had no concept of how hard these people had worked to get the opportunity to study in America. I was so easy for me to demand that they be better qualified, when I didn’t realize that they were literally some of the brightest (or the richest) people to come out of their respective countries.

I know better now.

In Equatorial Guinea I met students who worked their whole academic lives to get better education. They gave up everything to travel to Ghana to learn English. They applied to scholarships to get to Spain and get Western education. They overcame the circumstances of their political situations to get a better life. In a country where only the rich or the politically connected get academic scholarships to leave the country, it’s a surprise that anyone who isn’t Fang or isn’t an entrepreneur can even make it. Not to mention, the university of Equatorial Guinea (the only in-country option for higher education) does not offer master’s degrees, and often gives out three year technical degrees. If these students were to go onto study in America, not only would they have to first work do an extra year of work to earn a bachelor’s degree, but they would also have to learn the Western-style of learning.

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