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Kadija Samura '16 | Fulbright Scholar

Kadija Samura ’16  spent the a year from 2021-2022 teaching English in Côte d’Ivoire.

Samura took full advantage of her time at St. Edward’s University. While there, she interned at Reach a Hand Uganda for two months, then became a Boren Scholar to study at the University of Ghana for 9 months, where she learned Asante Twi—an Akan dialect spoken in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Her globe-trotting was stalled, however, when she, like so many other graduates in the class of 2020, had an anticlimactic end to her undergraduate studies. Having fallen in love with “education structures in different African countries,” Samura felt that Fulbright was the next logical adventure.

As an English Teaching assistant at Lycee Saint Marie in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Samura taught 6th to 12th grades at an all-girls institution of about 1,500 students. To her teaching she applied her thesis research which examined the importance of reintroducing “indigenous pedagogy and knowledge systems [into] the formal education system” that had been extinguished due to the legacy of colonialism.

Inspired by her students’ enthusiastic response to Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Samura organized a cultural book exchange between Lycee and her alma maters Moreau Catholic and All Saints Catholic School. The students from all three schools collected over 600 books in English and French to build libraries at each location for language learning and cultural immersion.

“While I did not recognize it until later, Moreau prepared me for college. I walked into most of my classes, such as writing, well prepared. More importantly, I learned to take risks while at Moreau. I did this through student government, mock trial and track and field. I am grateful for the resources Moreau provided, the opportunity to participate in various activities, and that I received constructive feedback from dedicated educators which helped build a solid foundation and respect for educational institutions.”

During her time in the Fulbright program, Samura had to step out of her comfort zone and take in the world around her with eyes of nonjudgment. She shares that cultural exchange “requires respect, patience, and a genuine will to learn from the culture,” and reflects on her experience through a critical lens:

“Living in a different culture and language can be challenging and often requires constant reflection on one’s interaction with the space around them. While teaching English allowed me to have a great impact on my student’s lives, I had to dedicate a significant amount of time navigating the weight that can sometimes come with it in an African country like Côte d’Ivoire, where the impacts of colonialism are blaring…Oftentimes when working in a space of cultural exchange, you are not only transmitting language but also the culture that comes with that language. As I shared my American perspective, I also pushed myself to understand the Ivorian perspective.”

Samura is now back in the United States and after earning acceptance to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Columbia, Samura has chosen to pursue a master’s degree in International Comparative Education and Policy in the Stanford Graduate school of Education.