Yannick Assouman, from the Ivory Coast, is an IT student and a participant in the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. Here he reflects on what he learned during his year at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood.
During my stay in the USA, I had the chance to visit museums like the MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) in Seattle, which fed my curiosity about U.S. history, how Americans build their society, what challenges many leaders in the past met, and how they overcame those challenges. I realized that, while trying to understand American society, education has played a major role. I realized that durable changes take times, endurance and a lot of patience. Most of the time, we youth, act in hurry and we lack tenacity in achieving our goals.
A lot of American pioneers in science and technology or activists for social justice will never have an opportunity to see the fruits of their fights, how they improved the lives of millions of people, or how their first steps inspired other people to build confidence and eventually achieve the desired goal. For example, the dream of Martin Luther King became true when now in the United States people are treated equally no matter the color of their skin and principally the historic election of President Obama demonstrated to the world the maturity of the American people and their institution. I believe this dream should go beyond the borders of the United States and continue to inspire people all over the world.
Education is a powerful tool to fight against injustice, discrimination, and obscurantism in a society. Unfortunately, in Cote d’Ivoire, for example, and in many regions and countries of Africa some people use armed conflict and violence to pretend to be fighting against discrimination, oppression or to have their voice count. This has never produced tangible results but unfortunately contribute only to the proliferation of weapons and a more politically and military unstable countries. Violence brings more violence and the cycle of violence will always continue.
I also dreamed that the pursuit of knowledge, to have the opportunity to travel and see the world and discover many cultures was going to allow me to become someone that I otherwise might never have even imagined.
Conscious of the importance of education, I came to the U.S. and I have made not only a lot of progress in computer information systems but also I unlocked a great motivation to develop an expertise in a more advanced technology specialty in networking and security. I had the privilege of meeting engineers, visiting the campuses of worldwide IT leading companies such Microsoft, IBM, Google and some startups. The conversations with these tech-geeks, listening to their advice, sharing with me their experiences was just magic and divine (a great help from the sky). They were very open to answer to all my questions. I couldn’t imagine that this day would one day happen. I felt so blessed.
Now I am committed to contribute to building schools, working on the quality, the accessibility and the affordability of education especially for little girls.
NWCCI so far energized me to use my experience in the United States and all my resources to inspire the youth of my country to fight against ignorance and to fully develop their intellectual potential to better the society.
“Education is transformational. It changes lives. That is why people work so hard to become educated and why education has always been the key to the American Dream, the force that erases arbitrary divisions of race and class and culture and unlocks every person’s God-given potential.” – Condoleezza Rice
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.