My dear fellow EducAidians, both past and present. We are all students of that noble institution far away in Sierra Leone which aims to create hope and confidence in the lives of some of the most vulnerable and war affected children – working for over a period of 12 years so far.
I am grateful that such an opportunity has been given to me too.
To outline the short period I have spent out of my country in a very strange land, the former Soviet Union: Russia…..
After so many ups and downs trying to get my visa and medical tests for a period of almost 7 months, I finally left my country on the 5th of December 2010 to study in Russia with a scholarship awarded to me by the Sierra Leone government through the Ministry of Education and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for a very good performance in the West African Senior School Examination (WASSCE). The way from Sierra Leone to Russia was hard, as it was only the second time undertaking any journey out of my country. We had to go from Sierra Leone to Ghana and Egypt and finally to Russia. I spent some days along the way, two days in Ghana and a day in Egypt. Arriving in Moscow on the 9th of Dec. At the airport I was at once hit by the weather. It was winter and the atmosphere was unfavorable as I saw every one wrapped in a very thick coat with even their heads covered and no face, just voices. I stood in a corner for a while gazing on how to move, but the way was windy and my feet were almost freezing and my hands were folded around me posing like a policeman. It was then I heard a voice from a distance calling and asking, ”где студенты из сьерра леоне (where are the students from Sierra Leone)” but I only heard the name Sierra Leone in the message and the caller was black in skin, so I at once knew he was looking for us and I raised my hand for answer. We were taken to the Embassy of Sierra Leone, from the airport to embassy we almost took about 2 and half hours, looking through the windscreen and I can’t see anything because the atmosphere was foggy.
I slept in Moscow a day and the following day we were taken to another town south of Moscow to attend high school in a pre-university academy for language course and defending of the certificates we earlier sent to the Russian ministry of education. We spent two days in a train to get to the destination and finally we arrived in the morning in a state called Воронеж (Voronezh in English). We came late according to the rector of the academy, but the following day we started classes.
My first day in class, the situation is hard to describe. The teacher did not speak any English and all she was able to ask me was ”как тебя зовут (what is your name?)” and Ii was without a word to say and the rest of them went into laughter. Then I was given a textbook full of words and letters with English meanings. The day was horrible and at the end of that day I asked myself what I was doing there. The answer was simple, recalling a day in EducAid when I was told that ‘Musa, there is nothing you can’t do in life as long as you have determination for it and you can apply effort to that.’ This memory gave me courage to say to myself that I can do it no matter what it is. I went to my room and the room was like a refrigerator with no heater and no blanket, then I asked my room mate to help me get a blanket, the guy was from Angola and he can only speak Spanish. We were the same level in Russian. He then gave me one from his bed and said good bye by waving his hands to me. I had wanted to ask the guy for food but I kept my words till the following day. In the morning he woke me up and said is time for us to go for lessons and I never read the past night the alphabet and the news words, so we went to class with empty stomach. The teacher came again and repeated her question and my friend whispered in ears the answer that I should say ” меня зовут муса (my name is Musa), she was impressed as that was my second day in class, so I was not asked any other question about the alphabet and the new words. We took the language class for few months and we were faced with 12 other subjects to add to the language.
I was eager to look among the subjects if there was chemistry and maths, and indeed they were there. That was a happy moment for me I thought. But my mood changed when we entered the first day for chemistry class, I was in the back row of the class and the teacher started asking question as a test but no one knew he was testing people based on the certificates they had submitted. My Ghanaian friends were in the first row and they were unable to understand the questions so they were asked to stand up and it was my time for question. The teacher was so aggressive and I was so confident that I could answer my question and he fired a question at me ”что такое периодеческая химия (what’s period chemistry?) and I was left without a word to say but I understood the words периодеческая and химия and so at once I knew he was asking for a definition of periodic chemistry. Thanks to my preparation in EducAid, I was able to draw on the board a row and a period indicating some elements of the periodic table and then he congratulated me but I never did that with the hope I was correct, but having learnt from EducAid that we need to have confidence in whatever we do, so I was saved for that day and Sierra Leone was on the lips of all the teachers. My room was always full of friends from all over Africa and Asia so that we can learn from one another. But it was difficult to be enthusiastic about learning the Russian grammar called падеж (padesh), as I found it very difficult and hard to understand ….so do all students even to date. We spent about 8 months in the school and we sat to public exams with other schools around the states to enter university for the real course.
We took about 17 modules including the language, and most of us were successful and others were asked to repeat the course or they go back home, but going back was not an option as we all are ambassadors of our various countries and so we asked the students to repeat the course with some encouraging words that they too can make it no matter what may come. We left the school for our various universities, our good friendship became separated by thousands of miles. Some went to Moscow, Saint Peterburg and I and few others remain in the same state as our university is found in the state just few miles away, the Russian State university of Architecture and civil engineering. We started classes the 1st of September 2011 and all students from every part of Europe, Africa and Asia were all expected to attend class that day, with failure you are rusticated from the university. There I was in my green white and blue in the front line as I was told by the embassy, the Russians don’t play with the first day of school in colleges. During lectures we foreigners did not understand any thing. We recopied from friends and the first semester went by. I was able to pass all my modules including Russian history and Sierra Leonean history. There I came to understand what it was all about with Mr. Bailay in his history class in EducAid. I now appreciate even more, the holistic system and self-learning skills. I am the only black student in my class.
Students pay for almost every thing with the exception of tuition fees and they are quite expensive. The weather is horrible and this time winter is still with us. I wear almost 4 layers every day for classes with a thick coat. Snow falls like rain here and almost all the outside windows are covered with snow and ice. Walking around, you should have very good shoes with a very good grip which can create more friction with the snow and yourself or else you find yourself toothless.
We keep on striving to the peak of success to achieve those dreams long kept for our nation and our families and the world as a whole. I am very grateful and I will be always be grateful to this noble institution for giving such hopeful confidence in life and I will always remember to pay respect to my alma mater, THE EDUCAID SCHOOL.