What it’s like attending school in another country

The+school+the+author+attended+in+Cameroon%2C+which+provided+a+very+different+style+of+learning+than+American+schools.
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What it’s like attending school in another country

The school the author attended in Cameroon, which provided a very different style of learning than American schools.

The school the author attended in Cameroon, which provided a very different style of learning than American schools.

Adeline Djemene Siani

The school the author attended in Cameroon, which provided a very different style of learning than American schools.

Adeline Djemene Siani

Adeline Djemene Siani

The school the author attended in Cameroon, which provided a very different style of learning than American schools.

Soreya Djemene

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If you think school here is “hard,” I really envy you. As far as I’m concerned, schools in America are the Disneyland of all education. Compared to what I’ve experienced at schools outside the country, we have it pretty good here.

As you can probably tell by now, I’ve been schooled in a foreign country. I attended school in Cameroon until my first year of middle school. Growing up, all I knew was what I was being taught, so I never questioned anything and considered everything to be normal. Uniforms, beatings, singing the national anthem on the school’s court every morning, it was all normal. When I finally came to the US, I realized I’ve been living in another world.

School in Cameroon isn’t free, so my parents had been paying for me to go to school since kindergarten. Overall, school wasn’t all that bad. Things just took a turn when I got to middle school. After elementary school, my dad decided to put us in a private school, so all our focus would be on our education. Turns out the school he signed us up for was the one of the top five in the country. It was called “La Conquête,” which translates to “The Conquest.” If that doesn’t already scare you, don’t worry. It gets worse.

First of all,  you get beat for everything and anything. Like being late to school–and no you can’t get away with that because we had guardians at the gate.  Or getting a score under what was considered a passing grade on any quiz, tests, or projects. Or being one of the students at the bottom five of your class. Or answering a question incorrectly, but that usually depends on how petty the teacher wants to be. Or Five, not doing/having the homework the day it’s due, I can keep going but you get the idea.

There is no “I forgot we had homework” or “can I turn it in later?” You either have it or you don’t. There’s also no such thing as box braids, weave, or anything…that’s cancelled. Six cornrows is what you had on your head the whole school year. Don’t take this as a joke because they will cut your hair, I’ve seen it. My sister got twists for her birthday, and soon as we got to school, the PE teacher got scissors and cut her hair off.

Phones? Those are also cancelled. It’s okay to use them outside of class, but if you’d like to keep your phone, I suggest you don’t take it out. Because yes, they could take them and decide not to give them back.

Things they used to hit us with varied; it was the teacher’s choice. I personally got beat with yard sticks, belts, and gas pipes.  And this wasn’t a situation where you went into a back room–it happened in front of the whole class. This is a school, let that sink in.

Some of you are probably thinking, “Oh my God, why didn’t your parents let you transfer?” My father knew exactly what was going on, that’s why he put us there in the first place. I remember my dad coming to school one day, and giving our principal wine as a thank you for beating us because it paid off. Crazy right? 

For what it’s worth, it was a good school. I learned a lot, and I don’t regret school my schooling in Cameroon. I’m actually thankful. After going to school here, I’ve seen and understood how much culture, people’s values and environment can affect education.  And it certainly made me appreciate attending schools here more as well. 

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