IIE Networker - Fall 2008 - (Page 42)

Knowledge Network Advising Students Recruiting African Students By Nancy Keteku Working with African students engages the advisor’s mind, heart, and soul. A typical day in the EducationUSA advising center features students who approach shyly, with that tone of reserved respect that has been drilled into them all their lives. Yet they can’t hide the sparks of determination, the built-up reserves of strength that succeeded in getting them through high school and over countless barriers. Advisers’ desks have seen countless dreams spread out, invisible yet shimmering in the air, dreams that are valid to the student who wants nothing more than to study in the United States, yet are fraught with fear, fear of failure and the pain of risk-taking. The adviser’s first task, then, is to build up students’ confidence, a tricky process because we must be careful not to raise unrealistic expectations. An advisor in Malawi used to start her presentations at schools by marching stridently across the stage, exhorting students to “Walk confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Seasoned advisors teach new colleagues the mantra that every student should leave the advising center more confident and a bit happier than before. We have to recognize that young people are fragile, and must be handled with tender care. Advisers deal with other constraints as well. Many African cultures are oriented towards oral communication, meaning that students learn better from personal contact; we can’t just send students to the Internet to do their research without oral reinforcement and support. Students have come from cultures and educational systems that do little to encourage reading, reflective or analytical writing, or research. Their strengths lie in verbal arguments, tests of wits, and situations requiring quick and resourceful thinking. They are accustomed to working communally, studying in groups and mastering the art of teamwork. The adviser’s task is to transfer these skills into the individual, written arena without weakening them. Advising in Africa is not merely a process of making information about U.S. higher education available to students. It’s about transforming people’s way of thinking about themselves and their future. We work intensively with students for a whole year, week in and week out, teaching them critical thinking and research skills, goal-setting, problem solving, how to reflect on who they are and to write about themselves. We not only take them through the steps of selecting schools, test prep, and essay writing; we also hold “food for thought” seminars, convene reading clubs, and get everyone involved in community service. We’ve even coined a name for the process: we call it “transformational advising.” By the end of the process, when we’ve done our job right, even the students who don’t get into U.S. schools or who don’t get enough financial aid to enroll will come to their advisers and say, “It almost doesn’t matter that I didn’t make it, because I’ve learned so much about myself in the process that I’m OK.” These are the students who go on to star in local universities, and then come back Ghanaian students attend a college fair and talk to visiting admissions officers.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2008

IIE Networker - Fall 2008
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
The International Dimension of Higher Education: Status, Challenges, and Prospects in Africa
Internationalization in Africa In Relation to Other World Regions
Measuring International Student Mobility Trends: In and Out of Africa
IIENetworker University President’s Interview Series A Conversation with President Mohammad H. Qayoumi, California State University, East Bay
Country Profile: Nigeria
Scholars & Research
Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative
Joint Degree Programs
Advising Students
Study Abroad
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2008