Anayo “Lawrence” Kwazema from Nigeria: Attending the 12th Grade at The International School of Minnesota

Anayo “Lawrence” Kwazema from Nigeria: Attending the 12th Grade at The International School of Minnesota

Why did you decide to attend boarding or summer school in the USA?

To get a better education.

Why did you choose the The International School of Minnesota (ISM)?

Because I have family in Minnesota [in the Twin Cities metro area]. My uncle toured the school and liked it and told to apply. It’s way different than other schools. It’s more challenging than others. 

What do you like best?

The teachers have patience with me as an international student, especially since English is not my first language. They spend one-on-one time with me and work things out with me. All the teachers I had in 11th grade were really good teachers. Also, I’m very social and I can mingle. After the first two weeks at ISM, everyone knew me. I don’t know why, but I fit in well and make friends easily.

What do you miss most?

My family the most! Because without my family, I wouldn’t have my home foods.

How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?

In general, being in the U.S. has helped, as well as my classmates, because I listen to how they pronounce things here in English. In Nigeria, the English is British style English, so it was an adjustment when I first arrived.

It has prepared me for the next step—I already know the school I will go to and also play soccer there. Attending ISM showed me what it’s going to be like in college, because it’s tough at school here.  Every month we are taking exams, it keeps me “awake,” and I also read a lot more at this school.

What was your biggest surprise?

I used to think all Americans were like the Americans I saw in Nigeria growing up –important and good business people.  But in the U.S. not all people are educated. Here in school, teachers can’t give their real opinion in classes about certain topics (like politics).  In Nigeria, school is more formal, disciplined, and rigid for the class structure. Here, one person in class can distract the entire class by talking or being loud and everyone in class suffers. In Nigeria, that wouldn’t happen. 

... your biggest disappointment?

The class differences in American society.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

Pretty good, I’m able to communicate with many students; I have Vietnamese and Chinese students who speak English as their second language too. We can understand each other.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

Pretty easily –by my third term here, my GPA went back up, now that I know what is expected of me in class.

What are your activities?

Because of the rules for high school sports in Minnesota and the fact that I’m an international student, I don’t play competitive sports here. I participate in the Big Brother program through the school’s Student Life Organization. I also participate in Spanish as my world language, and went on the Spanish trip this Spring to local places in the Twin Cities (Minnesota).

How easy or difficult was making friends?

It’s moderate–not easy, but not too difficult for me personally. I really put myself out there, which is why everyone likes me.

What will you remember most?

My friends of course and a few of the teachers.

What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?

My advice would be to get into a school with a purpose and to try and do your best. Be understanding because of the diversity and the circumstances of being an international student –these circumstances could drag a person down, but do not let them. Here [in the U.S.], there will be a lot of things, but you will need to focus on education and make the right decisions. 

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