With a little help from friends

oumar_profileOumar Sacko (’14), an international student from Mali, in West Africa, writes today’s blog post — a task he’s familiar with. In addition to studying biology as a pre-med student, he is a regular blogger on for JMU’s International Students blog. Through his insightful and interesting posts, one gets a real taste of what it’s like to land here in America from abroad.

He writes for us today about leaping the communication bounds and what that means for positive change for Oumar — and for his friends.

What if?

by Oumar Sacko

It all started when I first thought: What if one day I become a doctor? Then my thoughts went a step further to “I want to be a doctor.” Since then I knew that I had to work really hard to achieve that dream. But working hard wasn’t the problem; I was used to that already. The problem was the communication barrier. When I came to JMU I couldn’t even order food at the restaurant without the help of my friends. But being in the study group made my integration a lot easier. The group welcomed me with open arms and guided me along my freshman year.

Since day one at JMU, I had the chance to meet wonderful people with whom I am still in touch. They learn from me and my culture the same way I learn from them and the American culture. I was told by my American friends that I am always happy, that I have an interesting background and that I was mature for an 18-year-old-man. Having been to more than 10 countries and being fluent in four languages permitted me to know a little bit about many cultures — from the most rural places to the most urban/developed places such as the U.S. I had to adapt to the American way of doing things, but I still hold on to my beliefs and principles. That is why in order to bring a little diversity, later on in the future if everything turns out the way I planned, I will put together the knowledge of modern medicine from America and the traditional medicine in West Africa.

Oumar and friends in the Shenandoah National Park

Oumar and friends in the Shenandoah National Park

In JMU, people are really nice and welcome international students pretty well. Just by exchanging couple words with them, they would detect my accent and ask me where I am from and want to know more about me. By giving them an image of the Africa they didn’t have, some of my friends want to visit there. And this feeling of fitting in the University is what makes us realize that as international students we are not only here as simple individual students but we also represent our countries or continents, so it is important to give a positive image of where we come from.

Being in the USA and at JMU did not only change me as a person, it also enabled me to have a more global vision of the world, of people’s ways of thinking and affected my way of thinking and my decision making. In JMU I learned to be more independent. I’ve met some people who work to pay their university tuition; and that of course impacted me and brought me to think that education is important and that everybody is on his or her own. In Africa we believe that people help one another to achieve success, but now I think that nobody else except ourselves would fight our fights for success. That’s why it’s important to realize how important school is and give all we have to realize our dreams.

In JMU I also learned that time is precious and as they say “time is non recyclable.” And of course it all starts with the thought of “what if?” before going a step further to desire and finally accomplish.

You can learn more from Jim Heffernan’s story about this exceptional student. And find out more about JMU’s International Student CenterClick the embedded links.


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

One Response to With a little help from friends

  1. Pingback: Why James Madison University? - International students at James Madison University

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