U.S African International Students

By Paul Ndiho
September 29, 2010

The U.S. has the world’s largest international student population, with approximately 660,000 students. Paul Ndiho recently sat down with one African student who has chosen to pursue his higher education and life experiences in Washington D.C.
Max Jordan Nguemeni, is a first year Civil Engineering international student at Howard University in Washington D.C. He arrived here nearly 18 months ago from the West African Nation of Cameroon.

“I picked Civil Engineering as my major. Coming to the United States, you know, we have more opportunities here after college or grad school. If I ever want to go back – to Cameroon I think I have somehow more chances to be successful.”
Many colleges and Universities offer international students great opportunities for learning and enrichment. For Jordan choosing Howard University was not an extensive and exhausting process.
“I applied here, because my uncle, who I used to live with … but I live on campus now
Went to Howard for grad school, he did Mechanical Engineering and his wife went here for law school.”
Even though there are many cultures in America, there is still an “American culture” that may be quite different from your own. While much of American culture is exported through television, film, and consumer products, but there are some aspects that you do not encounter until you actually live in the US.
“People have this thing called personal space. I had never heard of personal space before… You don’t have to stand too close to people… “
In an age of globalization, the presence of foreign students is being perceived by universities around the world as an effective instrument in the diversification of their campuses. With their exposure to international students, domestic students are strengthening their knowledge of global issues and being better prepared to live and work in a global community. The exposure is also helping students to better understand each other and overcome negative attitudes toward other peoples and cultures.
“They make fun of us because of our accents maybe it’s a joke maybe it’s no not understanding other peoples accents sometimes they speak very fast for me to understand them too.”
However, Jordan says he enjoys living on campus life because the students and the professors are nice but jokes that there is no diversity.
“Everybody is black. Or almost everybody is black.
Because of the prohibitive cost of going college in America, there are certain scholarships programs that he cannot afford. He say these extra programs would beneficial to him helping people in his home country.
“To an African Society Civil engineering is very applicable, we need roads, we need bridges, we need buildings, we need better transportation systems, and we need to take care of the environment. And where I’m from the environment isn’t taken care of… so those are some areas where I can apply my degree.”
When asked about what he thought are about joining politics in Cameroon and playing a role in building his country. Jordan flatly rejects the idea saying politicians in his home country are greedy and don’t want to work for the advancement of the community but rather themselves.
“We need organization, we need to manage time, and we need to manage people and to learn how to manage money and improve service delivery for the communities.
Approximately 40 percent of all the international students at Howard University are from Africa. The New York based Institute of International Education says number of foreign students attending American colleges reached an all-time high of 671, 616 during the 2008-2009 academic year, an increase of almost 8 percent from a year earlier. First-time-student enrollments grew even more robustly, by nearly 16 percent.

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