Developing Global Citizens

Four Students, Four Continents: Spring 2020

February 27, 2020 Santa Fe College Season 1 Episode 9
Four Students, Four Continents: Spring 2020
Developing Global Citizens
More Info
Developing Global Citizens
Four Students, Four Continents: Spring 2020
Feb 27, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Santa Fe College

What compels a person to travel across oceans and continents to enroll at Santa Fe College? Join our host Vilma Fuentes as she speaks with four students from Mali, Sweden, Venezuela and Syria whose lives have now intersected. You’ll be surprised which countries have free college but zero accommodations for disabilities, and just how far some students are willing to go to find a writing tutor. Try to guess which American phrases sound the silliest to students from abroad as you wrap your heart around all there is to love about small talk in the grocery store.  

Show Notes Transcript

What compels a person to travel across oceans and continents to enroll at Santa Fe College? Join our host Vilma Fuentes as she speaks with four students from Mali, Sweden, Venezuela and Syria whose lives have now intersected. You’ll be surprised which countries have free college but zero accommodations for disabilities, and just how far some students are willing to go to find a writing tutor. Try to guess which American phrases sound the silliest to students from abroad as you wrap your heart around all there is to love about small talk in the grocery store.  

Vilma Fuentes:   0:00
Hello. Welcome to Santa Fe College. This is Vilma Fuentes with a new podcast on developing global citizens. Today we're joined by four very special students, all who have traveled a very long way to be here at Santa Fe College and experience our American educational environment. Um, I'm actually gonna do something different this time and ask them each to say their name, tell us where they're from and, uh, tell us what they're studying. So I'm gonna have a bias and start with ladies first, please.

Joudi Ayroud:   0:35
Um my name is Joudi Ayroud. I come from Syria. And,I got my AA in political science last spring and I'm currently pursuing a business degree at Santa Fe College

Vilma Fuentes:   0:46
Which business degree, we have three of them.

Joudi Ayroud:   0:49
Business organizational management to be specific

Vilma Fuentes:   0:51
Thank you.

Zeinabou Diarra:   0:53
And my name is Zeinabou Diarra I'm from Mali, and I'm studying electrical engineering.

Vilma Fuentes:   1:00
Wonderful. But currently in your AA degree?

Zeinabou Diarra:   1:02
Yes, in my AA degree.  

Vilma Fuentes:   1:04

Manuel Vera:   1:05
My name is Manuel Vera. I'm from Venezuela and and currently finishing my AA in computer science.

Andre Egle:   1:12
And my name is Andre Egle. And I'm currently doing my AA on the business currently open. I'm not sure what  specific topic I want to go into.

Vilma Fuentes:   1:23
And where you from, Andre?

Andre Egle:   1:24
I'm from Sweden.

Vilma Fuentes:   1:25
Sweden wonderful. How exciting we've got, um, different continents represented here. So you've all come very, very far away to be here with us. Uh, not necessarily today, but just to come here and be students. So I first want to know, um, how did you find out about Santa Fe? Uh, how did you learn that we existed?

Andre Egle:   1:49
So I actually have my dad went to college in Florida. And then His college friend had a son who went to Santa Fe, or he goes to Santa Fe. So I got in contact with him and that's how I got to know that Santa Fe existed on how I applied to Santa Fe.

Manuel Vera:   2:09
So computer science isn't a major, really, in Venezuela. So since I decided my major, I wanted to come to the U. S. and the best way it was through a community college. And so it was researching. And of course, Florida. I was closer to home. That's why I decided to came to come here and then Santa Fe was pretty much the best option, the best college in the nation. So that's why I decided to come here.

Zeinabou Diarra:   2:35
And as for me, I found out of through a friend. She was going here to Santa Fe College, and I wanted to transfer to UF. Well, so I decided to come here, and I'm really glad I did.

Joudi Ayroud:   2:47
My family. Many of my family members have attended Santa Fe College. Uh, one of my uncles attended about 20 years ago, graduated from Santa Fe. My brother, my cousins. Um, everything was sounded, you know, tempting for me. I wanted to obviously pursue education somewhere in the U. S. and because I have a lot of family in here. I decided to choose Santa Fe, for the most part.

Vilma Fuentes:   3:19
Manuel, you said a few interesting phrases that I'm gonna pick on and go back to. So you said you wanted to come study in the United States, but the best ways through a community college. Tell me about that. Why?

Manuel Vera:   3:33
So it's mainly economic reasons. I mean, of course I'm here. I'm not as bad in the situation as other people are, but...

Vilma Fuentes:   3:43
other people in your country?

Manuel Vera:   3:44
Yeah in Venezuela. So, yeah, for my family's it's like a sacrifice for me to be here. But, you know, I decided that's why I put everything into it, and they know that I will do that. So they said, okay, might do it. But, you know, you have to work hard for it, you know. Try to apply for scholarships. 

Vilma Fuentes:   4:06
So do the rest of you... Was this something that appealed to you about Santa Fe that it was financially more feasible or more economical?

Andre Egle:   4:15
Yeah. So, um, I've been in the States for one and 1/2 years. When I first wanted to come here, I wanted to go to college like my dad. But when I looked at the schools, I I had no clue of how to pay for that. I became an au pair and started working for a year, half a year in New York and then half a year in California. And then during that year, I I started reconnecting with my dad's friend's son, and I found  out about Santa Fe. And then I looked up the prices and I saw it was actually reasonable. And I could make my college dream come true. So yeah, for sure it price is a big, big thing Went looking into Ecologist.

Vilma Fuentes:   4:59
So first kudos to you for being an au pair. You're the first, I'll be really honest, the first time I've heard that there was a male au pair, so that's wonderful. Um but hey, you're from Sweden, and in Sweden higher education is free. How do you compete with free?

Andre Egle:   5:17
So when I look at it...So I'm in my I'm currently doing my application from the ambassador program and one thing that I'm so amazed by is all the resource Santa Fe has to offer. in Sweden,  we have the research center where you can go for help, but it doesn't compare to anything in Santa Fe has to offer. So I've struggled with math my entire life in Sweden, and then I got here on the way they set up math on how they teach you? Ah, I gain straight a In the whole class.

Vilma Fuentes:   5:54
So is it what happens in the classroom or what happens outside of the classroom that's different?

Andre Egle:   6:00
Both. So the teachers air way more engaged. And I think that's also because they get more paid. Um, and then outside of that, Santa Fe offers free tutors so if you need any help, you just go on and you just talk to them and they help you. They help you understand. So it makes it easier to do your assignments.

Vilma Fuentes:   6:26
So we have a math lab that provides a lot of additional help. Have you used the math lab?

Andre Egle:   6:31
Oh, for sure. 

Vilma Fuentes:   6:32
Okay. And have you use the—You want to say something? Go ahead.

Manuel Vera:   6:36
I'm actually a master in the math lab.

Vilma Fuentes:   6:38
You are good. You must be an engineering major. We employ sometimes our own students, but also people that that could be faculty, but instead of providing support in tutoring and we also have additional tutoring, service is in our library and what we now call the learning comments. Have any of you use that?

Joudi Ayroud:   6:57
Yes ma'am, all the time.

Vilma Fuentes:   6:58
So, for what?

Joudi Ayroud:   7:00
I've used it for accounting, struggled with that for the longest time. Um, I've used it for writing, for hire.  I'm not sure if the math got completely moved to that area, but I know that when I was taking math, my last stop, it was just for higher levels of math that was held in the in the library. So also for that.

Zeinabou Diarra:   7:31
I've used it most for English writing, since English is my 4th language. So that was something I needed help with. So I've used it for every essay that I've written at Santa Fe. I've gone to the writing lab, and they are very helpful.

Vilma Fuentes:   7:47
So this was one of the questions I was gonna ask you. So, um, what is your mother tongue? Your first language that you learned that you spoke with your mother. How many languages do you speak? And we'll have more questions, but let me start there, Andre, I'll go back to you.

Andre Egle:   8:04
Um, so I speak Swedish, which is my native tongue. And then, uh, uh, English becomes our second language, and I think it's fourth or fifth grade, and then you pick up third language. But I have dyslexia, so I never picked up the third language instead, I picked it up later in, ah, Swedish College.

Vilma Fuentes:   8:27
I'll come back to..

Manuel Vera:   8:27
Oh, uh, I just pretty much only Spanish and English since very little.

Vilma Fuentes:   8:35
So you learned English in Venezuela

Manuel Vera:   8:37
Yes, since I was very little, pretty much when I learned how to read.

Vilma Fuentes:   8:40
So did you go...Did you attend an American school?

Manuel Vera:   8:43
No, I went to an English academy.

Vilma Fuentes:   8:46
Okay, Um uh, Zeina, you said that you speak four languages. So your mother tongue is...?

Zeinabou Diarra:   8:53
Bambara. And then my father's tongue will be Soninke. So I speak both and I speak French since I want to French school and Mali is French speaking. And English, which I learned, I think in seventh grade we started English and I was very interested in the language, and they didn't go very much in depth since it was not very important there to learn english. So you just had to know the basics. And I wanted to know more than the basics. I watched movies. I, um I talked. I had friends on Facebook from the United States just to learn the language because I was so fascinated by it.

Joudi Ayroud:   9:35
Um, so I speak Arabic, and I learned English around pretty much the same time. So you know that, um, I seventh or eighth grade.

Vilma Fuentes:   9:46
So all of you were exposed to English before coming here? Because you do need to know some English to be admitted. Yes. You have to have passed the Do you remember the TOEFL score requirement?

Vilma Fuentes:   10:01
You know, I'm actually gonna quickly look this up, but while we do that, But you've all mentioned that you were looking for tutoring help in English because, ah, well, why? You already knew English, didn't you? I mean, you've been studying it since you said seventh grade in Sweden, or like, a lot of you got very early exposure. So why Why do you think you needed additional support in English?

Zeinabou Diarra:   10:27
Okay. So, uh, the way we learn English in Mali is we translate. So we read some texts. It's a dialogue between two people, and it's basically hello. How are you? Where do you go to school? And that's not an essay. That's very much different from an essay. So the grammar structure is very different in English than it is in French. So that really messed me up. Um, like, um, the way to phrase my my sentences. I messed it up a lot. So I I got a few points off the first essays I've written, so I had needed help. And I didn't know at first about the writing lab, I learned that I think my second semester and I'm glad I did, because of the way you learn it there. And the way you learn it here is very much different. And since I took English in seventh grade but it was one hour a week and yeah, you don't learn much from

Vilma Fuentes:   11:29
anybody else. Want to share their experiences?

Andre Egle:   11:31
My mainly go for my dyslexia. So, um so I feel like I have a proper English when I talk and right, but it's more than a sentence structure and grammar I want to have double checked on. Sometimes I don't even notice my own faults. So I'll write a text and I'll read it. And for me, it sounds perfect. And then someone else read it, and I put the letters in the wrong way, but I don't notice it when I read myself.

Vilma Fuentes:   11:59
So just to go back, I found this: so for admission into Santa Fe, students needed to earn a TOEFL score of 32. Or in IELTS score of 4.5 or higher. But we do find that a lot of our students, if they come in with those scores, they're still not quite ready to be taking college level English, right, or history. So they start with, um, of course, is in English for academic purposes. Did any of you take those? English for academic purposes? No. You missed it. Um, Andre. So thank you for being so upfront about your dyslexia. You must be Swedish. Because Sweden, like the United States has a really strong commitment to inclusive education. And as I understand, it is very normal, right? To find Children in kindergarten first grade. Whether you have a disability or not, you're all integrated. Correct?

Andre Egle:   12:48

Vilma Fuentes:   12:48
Um, but in other parts of the world, I'm gonna look at the rest of you, like in Mali or in Syria. Or maybe in Venezuela—I'd say in Latin America in generaL— if you if you had do you think if a child had dyslexia, they would get the support they needed either in elementary school or college?

Joudi Ayroud:   13:08
No, I don't think so. Um, at least where I grew up, I mean it hits close to home, but if you have any sort of disability, you're pretty much useless. Yeah, I know.

Vilma Fuentes:   13:26
I mean, there,  people with disabilities are joften marginalized in other countries and not given the same opportunities. So I'm just curious what it's like in your home country.

Zeinabou Diarra:   13:35
It's the same in Mali. First of all, it's very hard to get an education in Mali. The education rate is very low, and it's even lower for girls. So a girl with dyslexia or with disability is not going to get educated. I'm gonna say that up front because it's true. It's a reality in my country. It's something that that concerns me a lot, But it's the reality of things.

Manuel Vera:   14:01
In Venezuela. There's pretty much an open education, so there's not much problem accessing education. And in fact, I've had a few classmates who had dyslexia or some kind of spectrum, so it's more open, but it's not as inclusive is here in the United States. Here, I'm pretty much impressed how you know, how integrated they are. Not only the community, not only in the academics, but also in the community itself.

Vilma Fuentes:   14:31
Um, Andre, have you registered for disabilities in our disabilities resource Center?

Andre Egle:   14:37
Yes. I had troubles getting my papers done because there were in Swedish and I did my, um, examination in, like, 2010. I think so. The doctor they needed to contact didn't even exist anymore in the hospital. So I had some troubles, but they helped me out the first semester and gave me that time to get the papers done. And then this semester they put me officially on a DRC student.

Vilma Fuentes:   15:04
So as a DRC student, Um, what does that mean? What's your understanding of what that means?

Andre Egle:   15:10
Big help me get accommodations that I need. So the main recommendation I need is the extra time and maybe get myself away from the big group. So, that's what they help me mainly with. And what I know of the DRC is that they go in on an individual basis and help every person individually what they need, which is very impressive.

Vilma Fuentes:   15:38
So I'll tell you, from a faculty member's perspective, if you of a student were registered with the DRC, we would never know. Like, does this student have dyslexia? Um, you know, our autism. You know what did? Unless it was physically visible, we wouldn't know. What we know is we receive a form that says the student has registered for the Disabilities Resource Center. And we're told, um, this student needs a note taker or this student needs to have the lessons taped and shared, you know, or this student needs to take the exams in a quiet environment or they need extra time. And so we are told what the accommodations are. That's all we're told. So unless you share, the way you have here with the public, that you have a disability, the faculty member doesn't know nobody else knows. But I think that I mean, it's very individual. But a lot of I know of a lot of people in the United States that are very upfront about their disability and like, yeah, I have it. So what? You know I'm still an active participant in society. Um, so let me go back to, uh, so you when you apply, you applied to Santa Fe. You were admitted. Yea. Um, were you scared? Were you nervous that you were coming to the United States or to a new school? Cause Andrew you were already here. How did all of you feel?

Manuel Vera:   16:58
So I was when I applied, I was already here in the U S. I did the semester referring came here. I didn't one semester of English at University of Florida.

Vilma Fuentes:   17:08
Okay, So the English language,

Manuel Vera:   17:10
Yeah. I guess so. I volunteer there, so I still am connected. And I came here, and when I came here, that's when I decided to apply. And when I finally got my decision, that's when I settled here more.

Vilma Fuentes:   17:26
And we do find a lot of students, especially those who cannot that cannot score a 32 or higher on the TOEFL will begin their English learning experience at the English Language Institute right here in town, located at the University of Florida. And then from there they come to us and often times from there, they return to UF. But I'll come back to that. Um what about the rest of you? Were you scared? Were you nervous? Were you happy? How did you feel?

Zeinabou Diarra:   17:53
So my first time coming to the U. S. was in 2017. I was in Colorado as an exchange student, so I wanted to come to Florida because Colorado was obviously too cold for me.

Zeinabou Diarra:   18:05
So I first apply to UF but as an international student and I applied late, so the applications were closed. So I applied for the program that you did, um, the English to learn English. It was for two months. I applied for half a semester, and then they talked to me about Santa Fe. And then I applied to Santa Fe. I was like, Yes, my friend goes here and I even forgot. So I applied to Santa Fe, and yeah, that's pretty much how I got in. I was not very nervous because I was already here, and I knew some people when I got here.

Joudi Ayroud:   18:40
Um, I think even though I had family here, I was so nervous. Um, I was super excited, you know, I knew there was gonna be, um, just doors and doors of opportunities for me here. But the funny thing is, it wasn't funny at that time, is that  even though I got my acceptance from Santa Fe College, I got my visa rejected the first time. My student visa, even though I had come to the U. S multiple times before as a tourist. Um, but yeah, when I reapplied again for the visa and I got it I wa, I was very happy. I was more excited than the nervous, like, the first time. And I actually came here, you know, ready and determined and all of that.

Vilma Fuentes:   19:30
So have you found, um, society and culture and even the educational system in the U. S. to be really different from what you were used to it?

Zeinabou Diarra:   19:40
Yes. So, uh, it's it's different, but it's not overwhelming, I'm gonna say, because when I first got here, I thought he was gonna be like in the movie, because that's what we see. Uh, it's different in the sense at school because I see that you have to change classes like you have to change classrooms to go to your professor. Where I'm from, the professor comes to your classroom. You're in the same class with the same people, and that doesn't change. So that's something that, um, I didn't understand, because when I was in high school here, I stayed in the same classroom for the whole day, and I did not get it that I had to go out and go to my professor. So that's different about school. Like the society is not that much different. Just the people are the friend, so yeah, but it's very adjustable.

Joudi Ayroud:   20:36
I don't think, um, I'm talking about Gainesville specifically, Um, I don't think it was that different for me just because it's so diverse. And there's so many different cultures. People from different backgrounds. Um, you will find people from all over the world in this place, so I feel like it's not super... um, I don't know if the right word is Americanized, but it's it's still rich and cultures that it wasn't, um, hard to adapt to. School is definitely very different. I went to British High School, and they are super proper, super strict, super everything.     

Vilma Fuentes:   0:00
Like Harry Potter  

Joudi Ayroud:   21:23
Yes. Mmm. That's exactly what it is. So, yeah, I was such a relief to experience a different form of education that everyone's willing to work with you, no matter what.

Andre Egle:   21:38
When it comes to the people like, I've never been in that grocery store. Never been to a grocery store in Sweden where I've talked to some random person for over 30 minutes and it's happened here. It's happening here multiple times.  

Vilma Fuentes:   21:52
What did you talk about?

Andre Egle:   21:54
Nothing. Some. Some guy came up to me and he thought I was looking at my app because I wrote down my shopping list and he was like, Oh, are you also in the after you buy groceries and you deliver it? I'm like what? And then we started talking about the app. Then, another time I was buying. And then I asked the lady for help. Uh uh. There was, like, 1000 different types of salts. I never really cooked in Sweden. So it was new to me. And then I asked her for help. And then she kept talking about the salt, and then we ended up walking down the aisle together and talking about what we're getting and what we're cooking. It would never happen in Sweden

Manuel Vera:   22:29
Okay, the culture here. It's not very different Venezuela I'd say

Vilma Fuentes:   22:34
that's because of all the Venezuelans here 

Manuel Vera:   22:37
Yeah, that's also part of it. I mean, the people is the thing thats different you know. They're  loud. 

Vilma Fuentes:   22:45
Americans are really loud?

Manuel Vera:   22:50
No, the Venezuelans. Americans are not very touchy. So it's different. The people, the culture, not that much really. And the education system. It's very similar that say, it's just that here in the U. S. Is much more fast paced. So what we so we have also 15 weeks semester , but we have it through six months instead of three and something so it's much more fast paced here.

Vilma Fuentes:   23:18
I a few months ago had the privilege of talking to some students in South Africa who they had not come to Santa Fe College. But they had all attended different community colleges in the United States on what they all—There were several things that they mentioned that was interesting to me, but one of them is what you're saying. When will, which is. They said, What normally takes a year for us to learn in South Africa, we're learning, and like you know a few weeks or one semester. But does that make it harder for you, like, have you been able to keep up with your classes? Or is it too fast?

Joudi Ayroud:   23:54
I think It works perfectly fine for me. That's a thing. As I mentioned, everyone is willing to work with you. Professors, even though they might be moving too fast in certain classes. For example, half semesters, these are the quickest, we all know that. There are professors who will always be willing to work with you and take things. Maybe a little slower with extensions here and there If you need, um,

Vilma Fuentes:   24:22
Those are the six weeks investors, which certainly for any international student or any student period I would not recommend a six week semester. Ah, it's best to try college a different way at first. Um, I do want to go back, though, to something that, um, you said Joudi. Which is, you said that the Gainesville itself is Ah, very. You're alluding to the fact that was very cosmopolitan and that there's people here from other parts of the world, and you're not sure of the rest of America's like that, and I think it my very personal opinion, but I think I'm right. So it depends on where you live in the United States. But the United States is fundamentally a country of immigrants. And so certainly, if you were in a big city, whether it's New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, these are melting pot, you have people from all over the world. You can get cuisines from everywhere. Um, maybe if you were in a small rural town somewhere in the U. S, it wouldn't be as diverse. But, um a, you know, even in north in rural areas of north central Florida, I've been, you know, if I go to the springs or something, uh, I I'm hearing so many different voices, languages, accents. Um, to me, it's heartwarming because this is who we are. Um, but but Gainesville, I think, because it's known as a university town, we have the University of Florida here, we have Santa Fe College here, Um, does attract a lot of people from different parts of the world. And on that note, I'm wondering, have you been able to learn more about other people? Other countries, like beyond just Americans? Um so, for instance, Joudi. You came from Syria? Maybe you had some more exposure to the Arab world or Arab TV. But when you came here, did you have you learned more than just about the United States?

Joudi Ayroud:   26:22
Oh, absolutely. I mean, my family is not a typical Arab family. I have a lot of Latin family members and American and whatnot. But obviously this place exposed me to so many different cultures and so many different religions, backgrounds. Um, and I'm honestly super grateful for that. I feel like every conversation that I have with a person, but I just that I meet, whether they're American or foreign, I'm always learning things right away. Even with a five minute conversation at the grocery store. You know, all of these things are always adding something to my life on it, for sure learned so many things.

Manuel Vera:   27:10
Definitely. Um, in my time in the English Language Institute, I've probably learned more because  they had activities for us to practice our English, and that's where I spend most of my time because, like I studied English for a very long time, so the thing that really wanted to practice was conversation. So I was very lucky to know so many people from very different places: Arab countries, formation countries, you know, even other places in Latin America, which I didn't know. So it was a really eye opening experience for me. And then here at Santa Fe College, in the classroom its little bit difficult to establish conversations with people in the class. But outside of class, even in student study groups or in clubs again, stations around campus. I've also been exposed to even more different cultures. So something I'm really happy about coming here.

Vilma Fuentes:   28:08
Do you think you've learned more about US culture and society during your time here? Then whatever you knew before arriving in the U. S.

Andre Egle:   28:17
Yeah, for sure. There's a lot of expressions that I've taken in, like, very They're so weird ones. And there's good ones. And a lot of different phrases that the American kids use

Vilma Fuentes:   28:29
Give some examples. I want to hear a weird one.

Andre Egle:   28:32
weird one. Uh, like, can I curse?

Vilma Fuentes:   28:36
Yes, sure.

Andre Egle:   28:36

Vilma Fuentes:   28:37
well, I don't know if you can, but yes, Let's do it

Andre Egle:   28:40
We're talking about Wendy's, which is one of my favorite fast food restaurants. And then one of my American friends goes, Oh, I f*ck with Wendy's. Like what? What? What are you saying? Apparently it means that they really love Wendy's.

Vilma Fuentes:   28:56
This'll must also be a younger generation, because I've never heard of it. Okay, Okay. What about the rest of you? Are there other phrases that, uh, you learn that were kind of interesting or funny? 

Zeinabou Diarra:   29:12
One that really stood up to me was you go, girl. And I was like, what?  She said it many times. I didn't get it. I thought I really had to go somewhere. So that was very funny, because, like, I think it took me 30 minutes to figure it out, what she was trying to say. So I did not get that. I say now a lot, but I think it's really weird, because if you do the translation in French, it sounds really  weird

Vilma Fuentes:   29:51
The rest of you.  No surprises?

Manuel Vera:   29:53
I mean, I usually used to say, How are you doing? How are you? And here I notice, here in Florida, mostly, How's it going? That's going, Yeah, so thats  an expression I never really heard before.

Vilma Fuentes:   30:12
What's up? I don't know. The sky?

Joudi Ayroud:   30:16
There's there's one. But I actually started using, um but it's it's also like one of these things that are, you know, like you guys are saying: it's I dig, which is I like. I was like, I didn't know that. Actually, my cousin once said it to me, and I was like, You what? He's like, I dig. I was like, What does that mean? Because obviously, if you're translating it, it's It's like also what are you digging? What is going on? But yes, I I started using that And has she really like it? But

Vilma Fuentes:   30:54
I think, um, I sometimes fear that some international students like people not here in the United States, but considering coming to the United States that maybe they or their parents. Um might be getting too many negative messages on the media about what the U. S. is like. Sadly, I think the media, I mean, it does the same thing about your countries. Like we never hear anything good about Venezuela, right? It's always about crisis. You know, people are hungry or, you know, from all of your countries. Do you think that the media stereotypes are true? Or have you found this to be a welcoming environment in general? Like, even outside of Santa Fe College? Like and I'm thinking, and I'm gonna pick on you, um, Joudi, because I presume, maybe I'm wrong, but are you a Muslim?  

Joudi Ayroud:   31:49

Vilma Fuentes:   31:49
Okay, So I think there's a suspect back that there's a lot of stereotypes and the Islamic media about the US that maybe we're not that friendly to Muslims. Or have you felt that?

Joudi Ayroud:   32:00
um, I'm gonna be completely honest. Certain parts, you know, certain incidents have happened where I've experienced that, but there has also been ah, people who, you know, who just truly wanna make me feel the best. Whenever I I kind of like, I never actually do hide it. I always put myself out there, present myself as an Arab Muslim woman. Um, but you know, whenever I do that, when people feel like maybe I'm a minority, they make sure that that I'm comfortable enough without they make me. You know, whenever incidents happen, I get feedback. I get messages. Supporting message  from from people who I've met in Gainesvillr. and not specifically Santa Fe. You know, people from you know, white people, foreigns, you know, all type of people. So I think I've experienced both.

Vilma Fuentes:   33:00
Okay, the rest of you?

Zeinabou Diarra:   33:04
For me, I want I remember I had to make a presentation on Mali. So I was trying to get pictures pictures online. So I typed in Mali and I was trying to, like, explain the housing and stuff like that, and I didn't find anything that will actually reflect my country in a positive way. And the houses I found online are actually people even there, but they are really rare to see. And, um, en if I type something about the political issues and stuff like that, I just the information were really inaccurate or very old. So I actually, when I went back home, I went to some places and I took pictures myself and make my own presentation because that was really and I wanted to convey a something that's really about my country and not all the stereotypes. Um, I want people to know that we are fine. We are good from in Mali. And yeah, so that's I think the media doesn't, well at the at least social media doesn't, show what actually is in Mali or in Africa, in general

Vilma Fuentes:   34:16
And but when you turn it around, when you think about what the media conveys about the United States in Africa Um, were you, uh, pleasantly surprised? Disappointed by what you experienced coming here?

Zeinabou Diarra:   34:31
Uh, I will see neither. Because I learned more most about the United States through movies.  And the movies are done in the In California, in New York. So I know that that's not everywhere. And when I got here, I was not very surprised to see that people, um don't leave very extravagantly as we see in the movies. But it's some part of you. There are some truth behind it, and you can see some movies as well. That will show the reality. And I've seen some of those. I was not very surprised.

Vilma Fuentes:   35:08
Manuel? I think you wanted to say something too

Manuel Vera:   35:10
Yeah, really quick. Uh, usually Americans are portrayed of very distant. Like I said, we're, for instance, in Latin American general. I think we're very close with one another in a very touching way. So here, here in the United States, Americans might not be as close physically, but I haven't felt like there cold in a way and off. You get what I'm trying to say. Here, you know, when you were a supermarket they smile at you. Hey, how are you doing? You know, they can really start like small talk like chit-chatting with you really quickly. And that's that's something very different from the the things I  that I saw  in my country.

Vilma Fuentes:   35:57
So what do all of you plan to do after you graduate from Santa Fe?

Andre Egle:   36:04
I hope to go into real estate maybe, and it depends like, if I have the possibilities to stay in America, I want to go into real estate and then start up my own non profit organization. And if I go back to Sweden, I want to become a special needs teacher and have a nonprofit organization on the side.

Vilma Fuentes:   36:24
You can also be a special needs teacher here. I'm just saying it's a portable degree,

Andre Egle:   36:30
but it doesn't attract as much as in Sweden.

Vilma Fuentes:   36:33
I understand,

Manuel Vera:   36:35
um, after graduating from here. I want to go to University of Florida. I'm applying right now. I want to finish my degree in computer science. I also have a couple of minors. I want to pursue: statistics and economics. Because I want to focus after graduating on data science. So there's something really interesting for me. That's what I really want to pursue through Santa Fe.

Vilma Fuentes:   36:57
Do you think you'll be admitted?

Manuel Vera:   37:03
I'm pretty confident about it.

Vilma Fuentes:   37:03
good. I'll use this opportunity to throw out some statistics. For the last five years, every single semester, Santa Fe College has transferred 60 to 70% off The Santa Fe students who have earned an AA degree, an associate of arts degree, have been admitted to the University of Florida. That's a pretty good statistic. Students in our honors program and it's close to 90% that get admitted. And generally speaking, the state of Florida has a statewide articulation agreement which says, by law, if a student earns an associate of arts degree at a Florida college, they will be admitted to one of the public universities in the state. Maybe not you UF engineering. You know the program you want, but you will be admitted. Um, so I'm also very optimistic. Your chances are good.

Zeinabou Diarra:   38:02
Uh, yes. I want to transfer to the University of Florida as well. Uh, and after that, probably stay for a few years, but eventually I'll be back home.

Vilma Fuentes:   38:12
Okay. Doing what? All those opportunities for women.

Joudi Ayroud:   38:18
So I want to create with my sisters, my own electrical engineering company about power energy. Because all of my sisters, I have five of them, and we've all become engineers. So exciting. Yes, And that's something that's very rare to see. And I haven't seen a lot of women working in general, but also working engineering in Africa. So I want to do something about that.

Vilma Fuentes:   38:47
That's wonderful. That's really great, because it's rare, even in the U. S. To find a lot of female engineers.  

Joudi Ayroud:   38:53
Um, so when ah, finish up my bachelors that Santa Fe then go back to political science at UF for grad school. And the ultimate plan has always been the U. N. Um, you know, someway or another. But my plan is to also still have my feet at home, not Syria, because I can't. My second home is Qatar. I don't know if I mentioned that, but that's where my direct family lives. And that's where I plan to, you know, continue my my life, my career. There's a lot of opportunities in there for woman specifically,

Vilma Fuentes:   39:32
And I would imagine that there's a lot of opportunities for, say, a woman or anyone really, who is fluent in English, fluent in Arabic and could kind of live in both worlds.  

Joudi Ayroud:   39:44
Yes, ma'am.  

Vilma Fuentes:   39:46
So I'd like to thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. I'm delighted to know that Santa Fe is exposing you to the world, not just to American culture, but to other cultures. And I look forward to see all the wonderful things that you will do with your life.  

Vilma Fuentes:   40:02
Thank you.