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An African girl's hope to go to college

Organized by: ana coulibaly

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My name is Ana Coulibaly, I grew up in the small town of Kati in Mali, West Africa, where I attended a primary school called Ciwara. Ciwara was an open door community school. Our parents worked or volunteered at the school in exchange for our tuition. This was true for most of the students there including myself. With the help of many people, especially school officials and even some Peace Corps volunteers who taught at my school in Africa, I was able to come to the United States and get the kind of education that is not available to people of my social rank back in my country. I am from a low income African family. I was raised by my mother, an elementary school teacher. Education is very important to my mother and she raised both me and my little sister with the idea of a better life if we studied hard enough. Growing up, all I ever wanted to do is to make my mother happy, which is a feeling that she rarely experienced. My mother is my biggest role model and she impresses me everyday. When my father left us when I was about 8 years old, I lived and witnessed my mother’s every day struggle. My sister was still a baby. My mother always was there. Even though my mother was not highly educated she earned her way into being an elementary school teacher. My mother was always there for me both at home and at school. She worked at my school, helped me with my homework at least the ones she could help me with and always applauded my efforts to be a great student. I always did my best in school and got good grades which is what got me in the United States. When I came to the United States, I tried to make the most of it. I studied really hard and since I did not know any English before I came, it was a struggle but I managed to get my grades up, make the high honor roll and be inducted into the National Honor Society. As my high school years are coming to an end, I am faced with the challenge of continuing my education in college. International students do not have access to federal financial aid or in-state tuition advantages so I am hoping to find scholarships that will allow me to attend. With the salary that my mother makes and the responsibilities that she has such as taking care of my little sister and grandparents, my mother cannot financially contribute to my education even though that is what she wants to do the most. As a young person from a developing country, I realize I have many opportunities to use my education to make a difference for our nation. In the summer of 2014, I returned to Mali to help train young people in an educational simulation we call the “Mali Peace Game”. Since 2012, Mali experienced firsthand how easy it is for a society to go from peace to conflict. The military overthrew our democratically elected president and many regions, ethnic groups and religious factions were put into conflict with one another. I worked as translator for a group of exchange students from MSU who were at my primary school and helping Malian students use the Mali Peace Game to see their way through the difficult situation. This has made me want to major in International Relations and be professionally trained to promote peace and dialogue among nations and neighbors. The Education system in my country is very bad and an alternate strike between students and teachers leave very little actual schooling in the school year. And usually, most girls get married by their 18th birthday which I fall into since I wouldn't be able to afford good education. So going to college in The U.S is my only way at this moment to get an education and I would appreciate any kind of help to get me there. Thank you for reading.


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