Terminal students from five of N’Djamena’s best lycees met with the US Embassy’s Education Advisor September 19 to discuss higher education in the United States and how to apply to American universities. The students — selected by their principals to represent the schools — were walked step-by-step through the typical application process, and the Embassy’s Consular Officer described the steps involved in getting a US student visa. Not surprisingly, a lot of the students’ questions and concerns dealt with the challenges of language competence, financial costs, and school selection. Tough questions with no easy answers, but the students were definitely interested at the prospect of studying in the US, and asked to be invited to future such counseling sessions.
American education – in principle and practice – was the topic for discussion the next day with the American Corner’s Saturday Morning English Club. The Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer spoke about the American ideal of everyone pursuing academic studies to the highest level possible, and the multitude of study options available to do just that. The conversation also covered the many challenges and obstacles facing American education today – inadequate funding for public schools, crowded classrooms, overworked and understaffed faculties etc. Club members were puzzled that Americans weren’t doing more to dramatically improve public education, the better to realize the American dream of everyone educated, no one left behind. Good questions, again, with no easy answers.