Sioux Falls, SD
(Instructor: Nancy Dickinson)
What is Master Student Success?
A survivor of a refugee camp finds a home again
in the World. He started his education in a refugee camp in Kenya. He started
school by sitting on stones, and he wrote on the floor where there were
no chairs and benches for students. I sat on stones until I completed my
Primary School. I also completed my two classes toward a Secondary School
diploma. I think that there are qualities of success in these efforts.
Success is a broad term used by people to express their personal thoughts
and feelings. To me success means being constant to my responsibilities
for my life and staying straight with my dreams of helping my relatives
and friends in Sudan. I lived in a refugee camp for about nine years with
nobody to given me advise, but I put my mind and my guts to work to make
valuable decisions and evaluate my behavior. Even my daily routines of getting
up, brushing my teeth, taking a shower, and going to school was important
to make my dreams a reality.
My life experiences have made me stronger and energetic enough to overcome
the obstacles in my life. In the refugee camp, I made up my mind to focus
on my main target: my future. I had lost my parents in the civil war in
Sudan and ended up in the refugee camp in the neighboring county of Kenya.
So I learned how to make decisions and take responsibilities for making
my life better, avoiding distractions such as soccer, the cinema, and long
conversations with other people.
In 2001 I had a golden chance for resettlement. I was accepted by the United
States government as a refugee. I came on May 30th 2001. I did not know
anybody in America, so the Immigration and Naturalization Service settled
me in South Dakota. I came from an area where the average temperature is
about 100 degrees Fahrenheit to Sioux Falls, where in the winter the temperature
is 20 degrees below zero. I had never seen snow before.
The Lutheran Social Services rented me an apartment and gave me other services
upon my arrival in Sioux Falls. So that I could fit into the system, I had
orientation classes about how to behave in American culture, including basic
English, job searching, and interview skills. I enrolled in Lincoln High
School in 2002, because I intended to get an education as something that
would support me in the future.
My intention is that education will change my entire life. I work and go
to school at the same time. I am doing that because I am responsible for
my own affairs-nobody tells me what I must do. I go to work after school
because I pay rent and pay my insurance. It is a sign of success. I did
that until I completed my high school career. Now I go to college and still
struggle for my bachelor's degree while continuing to work. On Saturdays
and Sundays, I work 16 hours at the HyVee grocery store. During the week,
I spend my time studying: highlighting, taking notes, and reading a large
amount of material.
By involving myself with others, I have learned how to share the tools for
success, and I have acquired the ability of being successful and teaching
others how to overcome their obstacles. During high school, I went to a
conference in Yankton with some other Sudanese refugees, and we talked with
a group of people about how we survived when we lived in Africa. My cousin
came to the United States in 1992, but he had been drinking and getting
in trouble for several years. When I came in 2001, I helped counsel him
and told him about the death of his father in Sudan. He quit drinking and
is now working.
So for me, success means being happy and being proud of what I have accomplished
in my entire life. As I started my school by sitting on stones for my chairs
and benches and writing on the floor for my exercise books, I have made
a conscious and beneficial choice not to take education for granted. Education
is my tool for success.