Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) students have the opportunity to spend ten months studying in a new education system, learning not just the subjects listed in their course descriptions, but also about a whole other system and learning philosophy.
In this post, Naila Shah writes about the importance of learning regardless of age and marital status, and other things she admires about the U.S. education system. Naila is a NWCCI participant from Pakistan who is studying project management at Edmonds Community College.
Before I came to the United States, I was really curious about the American education system. I have now had the chance to experience it first-hand, and I can say that I really admire the diversity, the lack of age discrimination, the up-to-date teaching practices and the opportunity for students to work while they are going to college.
In Pakistan, I used to hear the saying, “No age for learning,” which basically means that people can learn at any age. I have seen this in practice at EdCC. You can find students of many ages attending college here. It was especially surprising for me the first time I met a classmate who was 60 years old. Here, it is normal for people to go back to school at any age. The American college classroom also has students from many different cultural backgrounds. This diversity allows students the opportunity to learn from multiple angles and perspectives.
“Theory is blind without practice”, is another saying I often heard in my home country, meaning there is no point in learning if you cannot apply what you have learned. Here, the instructors use authentic teaching practices like guest speakers and real-world projects to help students learn. Students are well aware of current and up-to-date information in their field.
I also like the fact that the class schedules at the U.S. community college are designed so that people can balance their work life and school life. Back in my country, I used to take almost eight classes per day. Being a girl, I also had to help my mother with household chores. Cooking food for our family, washing clothes and doing other household work did not allow for proper time for my studies. This is the story of every girl in our society. If a girl gets married at a young age, then she never goes back to school. Our colleges do not have schedules that allow people to study and work at the same time. Our organizations and employers are not flexible for the schedules of students. Here, I have a lot of classmates who are able to study and work, and they are doing well. I, too, am doing both an internship and taking classes, and having fun.
After all of these great experiences I have had in the U.S., I feel very self-determined. It is almost time for me to go “back to the future” (Pakistan). I will go back to my home town with hope, courage,strength, and the substantial ability to put these experiences and knowledge into practice and share what I have learned with my community.
My country’s education system currently faces a number of political and economic problems. There is no doubt that we have plenty of natural and human resources, but unfortunately our education system is outdated. I feel that we need to upgrade our education system. I hope that colleges and organizations in Pakistan can reform their agendas to provide more flexible schedules and encourage those who are eager to continue their education to do so at any age, regardless of gender and marital status.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by student bloggers.