An Interview with Delight

I was lucky to meet Delight Gavor from one of my very first weeks at Clark. I had just started working  at the Clark Fund, and I was to shadow her to get comfortable with calling. Throughout the past two years, I would then witness some of the many sides of her through organising TEDx and joining the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

Delight is one of those people who inspire through their walk of life. I chose to interview her because she inspired me when I felt trapped at Clark. Here’s our conversation, a couple days just after she finished her final moments as an undergrad:

C: Pick five words to describe the past four years at Clark.

D: Cold. – laughs – Growth. Family. God. Memories.

C: How has Clark changed you?

D: How has Clark changed me? Well, I’ve learned to be very independent. I’ve learned to let my faith lead me into dark spots, when I can’t tell what will happen. And I’ve learned to keep trying.

C: Okay. Share with us one of your best and worst memories here.

D: Worst is everyday that’s cold. – laughs –

Delight1.jpg

(Don’t we all wish we can just push the cold away?)

Best was organising TEDx with the entire TEDx team. We went through so many obstacles, but we kept laughing. Also, seeing some of my friends come to faith. 

C: What would be your advice for international students coming to Clark for the first time? 

D: Don’t let go of your culture.

C: What are some examples of you keeping your culture?

D: I kept my accent, and my love for Ghanian food is something that grew a lot more…Just me wanting to showcase Ghanian fashion and Ghanian values.… [You should] celebrate it [your culture]. There are parts of the culture that make you who you are, and if you let go of those parts, you lose who you are. ‘Cause in the end, I’m Delight but I’m also Delight who are Ghanian. And taking those two things away wouldn’t make me who Delight is. But then even more, the likelihood of you being the only person out of your culture also makes it your responsibility to showcase to the world what it is – make people appreciate it because they may never have the chance to visit Ghana, you know? …Like that TED talk, Chimamanda’s talk about the danger of a single story, especially coming from Afirca where the African story is one-sided and it’s filled with poverty and all these things – in the end, you have a presentation of your culture so it’s also rich with so many gems, and you want people to know that. Other advice: find what you love to do and pursue it with your heart. 

C: How’d you find your passion?

D: I was reading this book, and it talks about how true vocation is where your heart’s gladness meets the world’s hunger…And I love to create, to learn in different ways…

C: How did you find interest in education specifically?

D: How? [Just from having] gone through the educational system and just from talking about it…worldwide education is becoming a means to just pass an exam…whereas it could be an instrument for you to create your positive realities, and I want to transform education to set that standard for education. 

C: Tell us more about when you discovered your passion for education.

D: Christmas break of my first year. I’ve never seen myself doing one thing – there was no one career that I wanted to do! It was more about what I wanted to do, and I wanted to improve the educational system. …So I asked: how do I want to do that, and in what way?

[This semester], I’m taking a Social Entrepreneurship class, and the professor kept saying: if not you, then who? If not now, then when? And also, there’s this other quote from Yunus or Gandhi: be the change you want to see in your world. Those two quotes got me thinking, why not now? Why not try and be the change I want to see in the education system?

C: Finally, if you could change anything about Clark, what would it be? 

D: Can they create wind tunnels? Shut us out of the cold. -laughs-

Delight3.jpg

And I guess more classes that teach about different parts of the world, we need to embrace culture a lot more. It shouldn’t just be left to ISA – the world should as a whole, should celebrate culture a lot more than it does. It’s doing well, but it should continue to challenge convention. 

This summer, Delight will be leading her Butterfly Effect program in Ghana (check out this Clark News article on her project). In the fall, she heads to Harvard to complete her master’s degree in education.

— Charis

All photos taken by the author.

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The International Clarkie vs. Humanities or Fine Arts: Learning against employability?

As the end of my college years draw near, it has become common for conversations with fellow internationals to lead to this question, “What’s your major again?”

Answer: “Comparative Literature, minoring in Screen Studies and some Photography on the side.”

This descriptive response is a reaction to some inner fear. I feel that reaffirming every tenet of my academic specializations would justify my “life goals.” Alas! In spite of the few approvals championing my “bravery,” general responses include confused facial expressions or silent nods. A close friend of mine once jokingly responded, “All very commendable pursuits but also all equally unemployable!” I’ve jokingly internalized this sort of response to say something like, “Please pay for me! Let me leech off you! You financial bastion of potential sugar-daddy (or mommy) material.” But I’ve also realized that my reaction has been very dismissive of my own pursuits. Perhaps in accepting the perception that I am “unemployable,” I have affirmed the very position that such disciplines are not actually worth an international student’s time. So, despite my own shortcomings as a student, I’ll try my best to dissuade the international student from belittling the Arts or Humanities.

There is the opinion that courses within the “Fine Arts” or “Humanities” discipline are easy tasks that involve a fairly short amount of rigor. To say that painting a full canvas is easier than solving an abstract math problem is itself problematic. Commitment to one’s work is, relative and frankly, if you cared enough about what you were doing you’d spend as much time and effort on it , until the desired is accomplished. So instead of divisive perspectives on what we study, we should perhaps think more about the efforts we put in.

A different reason for the near negation of humanities and fine arts majors among internationals has to do with perceptions of success and economic disparity. For most international students, the pursuit of a foreign education is also the pursuit of financial security.

For those hailing from the Global South, activities like drawing, museum visits, reading are activities of leisure and decadence. To this extent, criticism (literary, artistic, political, social) can sometimes be displaced into a bourgeois mindset and, if not, it is indifferently viewed as a distraction from monetary concerns. Of course, I agree that we exist in a world where money does run everything. How else would I be here? But in this valuing of money, the activities that engage with producing or criticizing culture are neglected.

If we are to speak of time, perhaps the accumulation of money is essential for our longevity, but so is a balance to create and learn from “humanity.” Perhaps, taking courses in the arts or humanities does this very thing. In spite of our virtual and capital existence, we come back to recovering this very human act of engaging with our inner sensibilities. And once we’re past condescension and appreciation, perhaps we can all interact. As much as I have found cosmology and Carl Sagan incredibly essential to learn, so maybe you too will find that a course in photography will perhaps enable you to capture and see things differently. So I suppose the point is to not consider employment all too much when pursuing an education, for learning is not all a pursuit of income security.

goddard library2

Goddard Library (Source)

Also, Clark’s Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) requirements or general Liberal Arts curricula allow a less rigid pursuit of employable education. Here are some opinions from students who are involved in the arts/humanities:

“Internationals are definitely less encouraged to study fine arts because of this concept of residency. They have to worry about being sent back to their countries or figuring out a career right away in order to stay in the U.S., and I think this pressure tends to push internationals away from humanities or arts in general. The environment I grew up in and the educational opportunities I had as a kid allowed me to realize the privileged freedom I have to study art if I want to. I think studying arts,  or just being apart of any sort of class in the arts, transports our minds to understanding a new level of human expression and through that expression we come to understand the world that we live in.”

-Nainika Grover, Indian-American, Class of 2016

“I love studying art because it is the way we communicate our identity in a material way. In that sense, I think anything we produce can have aesthetic potential and thus be considered art. I find meaning in art because it highlights the way people understand the spaces they inhabit and how they want to project themselves in front of a public, whether a contemporary one or one for eternity. This to me, gives power to art as the materialization of culture.  Art has always been very present in my life so it made sense for me to study it at a deeper level. I suppose I have been able to study it because I see myself pursuing a career in architecture conservation, for which a background in art history is critical.”

-Maria Luisa Escobar, Colombia, Class of 2017

“When I started college, I did not have the courage to choose studio art as my major even though it was my passion. I believed that I should choose the major that could help me get a secured job in the future. I could combine my graphic design skills while doing that job, that is why I want to work in marketing. At the present, I am majoring in Cultural Studies and Communications (CSAC) and Management, but I have taken 4 graphic design classes at Clark and I also study it on my own.”

-Duong Le, Vietnam, Class of 2017

As much as we’d like to harmonize economic pursuit and passion, it can be a challenge when seemingly it is easier for majors to decide it all for us. But as these three examples show, art is crucial to them, yet they’ve figured out a way to follow both or incorporate studying humanities into possible employability or just followed it through as a passion. Either way, I believe, that education also means a certain degree of expressing concern, about what you think is best. So commit and care about what you learn, expanding your horizons won’t hurt either.

-Fileona

(Cover image source

A Vacancy in Education

I meant to write about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s visit to Clark on March 14th, but I realized that a bunch of sources have gotten that covered already – probably written much more eloquently and comprehensively than I would be able to (Check out Clark News, Telegram, Worcester Magazine, and MassLive). So, instead, I present some of my personal reflections on her speech.

The first impression I had was how much inspiration and motivation her presence brought. You could feel the energy change as soon as she stepped onto the stage. The first thought I had was: so that’s how a politician looks like. Even though most people didn’t seem so engaged in the first minutes of introductions – probably because it was Monday morning and we had been waiting for a while for the event to start – Atwood Hall was full of applause and cheers when Warren approached the podium.

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(Image: Clark News)

It brought me back to a high school English class that covered rhetoric. We read Jay Heinrich’s Thank You For Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson can teach us about the art of persuasion. (I would highly recommend this book!) In it, we learned about the three main tools of persuasion: logos, pathos, and ethos. You appeal to the crowd’s sense of logic (logos), evoke their emotions (pathos), and establish yourself as a credible source (ethos). That is exactly what Warren did. She presented her statistics and evidence in a way that made sense – federal resources helped drive desegregation back then in history, and so it should continue to drive the push against inequality today. Various quotes were charged with emotions – “Teaching is not a job, it is a calling”; “We cannot abandon our children”. Lastly, her speech starts and ends with her establishing her credibility – beyond having been a teacher herself, public education is personal to her because it allowed her to get to where she is today.

With so many interesting points being said and so many inspirational quotes to write down, one may forget the spaces between the words. What was not said? What was ignored?

While many points were addressed and brought to question by the panelists following the speech, I would like to address a very specific vacancy in Elizabeth Warren’s speech.

Asians.

She spoke of several goals for the federal government, that it should ensure Blacks and Latinos aren’t pushed to special education or disproportionately sent to prison lines. She spoke for the girls – how they should have access to sports, maths, or whatever they want. She spoke about economically marginalized groups.

But what about Asians? What about the minority group that makes 5.6% of the nation? Was the group ignored because it was presumably already doing well in education? And is that okay?

I have little to no knowledge on issues of discrimination on Asian Americans. As I mentioned in my previous post Nearsighted, racism and prejudice are social problems that I am still understanding and beginning to see in daily life. However, the concerns that came up to me during Warren’s talk were there because they reflected a social issue I heard of just a couple weeks ago.

In early February, filmmaker Curtis Chin had visited Clark to talk about his documentary “Tested”. The film speaks of the gap in opportunities for different races in public education, specifically in New York City. My education class (Complexities of Education Class) received an invitation to attend a pre-screening Q&A session with Curtis, and so I had the chance of also hearing his personal stories before watching the film.

In telling his inspiration to create documentaries, Curtis asked the class if anyone had ever heard of Vincent Chin. Facing a row of blank looks, he explained that unfortunately, not many people do. Vincent Chin was a Chinese American man who was beaten to death by two men who claimed that “it was because of you little motherf**kers that we’re out of work” in 1986. They blamed the decrease of US auto manufacturing jobs following the growth of Japanese economy on Vincent, who was not even Japanese. It was this story that sparked the Asian American movement and inspired Curtis to create a documentary – Vincent Who?

Curtis continued to tell us more about his experiences and insights of Asian American discrimination – and the missing dialogues on it. I was reminded of a particular statement he said as I listened to the Senator list future goals for public education. Curtis expressed his frustrations at politicians’ failure to address Asians. He would wait to hear those two syllables in Obama’s or Sanders’ speeches, and would, again and again, be disappointed when lists just like Warren had said ended with no mention of Asians.

Not even once.

Do Asians not suffer through the same oppression faced by other minorities?

A recent article on The Economist tells the story of discrimination of Asians in higher education. While the Asian American Achievement Paradox does exist, and 49% of Asian-Americans do have a bachelor’s degree (in contrast to the general population, 28%), there exists a disparity with their representation in higher ranked schools and the jobs they obtain after graduation. Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford found that Asian-Americans need 140 SAT points out of 1,600 more than Whites to get a place at a private university, and that Blacks need 310 fewer points. In 2014, whereas 11% of law-firm associates were Asian, only 3% of partners represented the group.

You could say that equity is not equality, that Asians are overachieving so it is okay for a “roof” to exist. You could say that entrance to higher level universities and positions is not as pressing as access to education itself. You could say others have it worse.

But I have a feeling the problem is more complex than that. I just can’t accept the notion that Asians are doing “okay” when I still see stereotypes portrayed in the media, still hear my friends’ stories of feeling not good enough, still feel the weight of judgement made in introductions and first impressions.

And when politicians continue to speak of social development without the mention of Asians, what message does this send?

During my education class, we discussed the tendencies of people stick with “safe” dialogues. By avoiding conflict, hidden judgement and oppression survive without being challenged. I know from my personal life that Asian culture and philosophy places high values in tolerance and resilience. The silence that these traits can bring, though, allow for a continuation of oppression.

I really enjoyed Elizabeth Warren’s talk, and walked out of Atwood that morning feeling inspired and motivated. She had convinced me, to an extent, that the federal can make a big impact in public education, and is needed for a development towards equity. However, I still am skeptical about the quality of impact that a large-scale action such as this one can really achieve. Is it even possible to create a policy that benefits a group at no one’s expense? I have lightly touched on the fact that Affirmative Action may be harming Asians here in this article, but there are even more groups of minorities in the US, beyond Blacks and Hispanics, that have not been addressed in Warren’s talk – and most likely other political speeches.

We must continue to strive for a world of equal recognition, and we must not lose sight of people’s different experiences. I believe that everyone suffers – the least we can do is recognize it.

-Charis

(Cover image source)

 

Reservation System in India [Part 1]

In a country like India, freedom is a gift of democracy. We have been given the right to freedom by our Constitution and most importantly the right to exercise this freedom. Consequently, it becomes the responsibility of the current government to ensure this equality prevails.

However in today’s time, one of the major roadblocks to this equality is the Reservation System.

During our vacations, my friends and I were travelling from New Delhi to Panipat in Haryana Roadways (state transport in India) when our bus was stopped by a group of people holding lathis, or hockey sticks, in their hands. A few men had some papers stuck to their chests claiming “JAAT AARAKSHAN ZINDABAD,” meaning Reservation should be given to the JAAT community. The bus was vacated and immediately set on fire. The police was a mere spectator to the entire scene.

Normal life was severely affected with the agitation affecting supplies of essential commodities like milk, vegetables, gas and petroleum products in several parts of the Haryana state including Rohtak, Jind, Bhiwani, Sonepat and Hisar. Trains were disrupted across Haryana and bus service also badly affected.

Allow me to give you a brief idea about what a reservation would mean to the society and why are people fighting for it. In India, some of the classes like Schedule Castes(SC), Schedule Tribes(ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) have been given reservation. Mind you, the reservation is not based on the economical condition, it’s just that these communities have been considered as backward classes. More surprisingly, What actually constitutes a backward class? What are the determinants of a backward class? The answers to these questions have not been defined in the Indian Constitution. So the question is, how can the reservations be made for something which is not defined?

Currently, as per the government policy, 15% of the government jobs and 15% of the students admitted to universities must be from Scheduled Castes. For the Scheduled Tribes there is a reservation of about 7.5 %. (Source)

Other than this, the state governments also follow their own reservation policies respectively based upon the population constitution of each state. Nearly 50% of seats are reserved. Evidently, there’s hardly anything left for the masses (General) not belonging to the reserved community, which becomes the main cause of this agitation in society. Everyone wants to be uplifted and given special privileges.

All of this means that for example if you’re in India, your admission to a university is going to be decided not by your merit but by your category. The admission forms today are filled with questions like “Are you SC/ST or OBC or General Category?” Sad, indeed.

However, I myself support reservations. But in my opinion these should be based on economical considerations. There are many people from rural areas that do not have the basic amenities such as food, shelter, clothing and facilities to attain primary education; they deserve the right to be reserved and given special treatment of reservation.

There are many cases where students from well-to-do families or people who possess all the facilities to get a good education still belong to the reserved class and take advantage and exploit the reservation system just because of their caste.  This arouses the feeling of injustice in the society.

Well, India aims at achieving inclusive growth which is not possible without ending social injustice. Mere economic upliftment will not be enough in a society like ours.

The concept of caste should be removed. In an educated society, no one is inferior or superior.

Reservations shall be supported for EBC, Economically Backward Classes, and the people from the rural area who are deprived of education and other civic amenities.

Do not spoon-feed people who’ve already made it past the high school. They should fend for themselves. If they weren’t good at this level, they won’t be much better off later.

By eradicating the caste system we shall be putting our best foot forward in uniting the people of our nation and helping the economically poor, irrespective of their castes.

-Naman

(Cover image source)

Clark at Advocacy Day!

NAFSA’s Advocacy Day was held March 14-16. It is a two-day conference on how international education impacts your state and district, and why we need a more globally engaged United States.

This is going to be a two-part blog reflecting and contrasting the pre and post-conference experience of the team of Clarkies both graduates and undergraduates that is representing Clark at the conference. Here is the pre-conference piece! 

This year, the Clark contingent consists of three Clark students: William Chen, Rodrigo Saavedra and, Emily Zhang. The team will be lead by Amanda Connolly, who joined Clark this July as the Associate Director of the International Students & Scholars Office.

I had the opportunity to attend the team’s pre-departure meeting where everyone discussed and finalized their plan of action. I then went ahead and asked them few questions.

First, I just asked everyone to just briefly introduce themselves and state what motivated them to apply for this opportunity.

William, who is originally from China but spent his high school years in Switzerland, started off the discussion. “I feel that every international persons here, whether they be students or professionals should take the responsibility to voice their concerns and opinions. I applied for this conference because this is a unique and valuable opportunity to be able to meet the congressmen.”

Adding to that Rodrigo, a political Science major and Clark senior said “ I felt that I  have a certain skill set to advocate properly for Clark. I wanted to learn more about the process of advocacy, it’s an opportunity for growth.”

Emily Zhang, a graduate student who moved to the U.S. with 6 years of professional experience, talked about how her expectations didn’t quite match the reality. “I want to talk about all the issues concerning international students and get help.”

I further inquired about the topic that was on the top of their advocacy list and what they expected to get out of this experience. Some of unanimous points of concern that came up were the transparency of the visa system, addressing and obtaining help for mental health issues for international students, and more work and education related opportunities for the international students.

Amanda, who had previously represented Tennessee at the conference, said “I am looking forward to represent a state that actually believes in education. I am excited to talk to senators and representatives who know and care about education, both domestic and international.” She added, “I hope to be able to talk about what is important and get heard, hopefully there is some impact and we can do meaningful things that affect these guys’ lives.”

The entire team seemed extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the conference and the issues it addresses. Having been to the conference myself, I can say that it is a great experience for anyone to have and offers great exposure. I hope the Clark team has a great time at the conference and is able to get out all that they expect from this trip. Stay tuned for a post-conference reflection from the squad!

-Radhika

 

Nostalgic of those Maya Days

Maya in Nepali means love. And even though I have uttered this two-syllabled word (without having truly realized its meaning) for innumerable times since I first learned to speak, I never thought that a rustic academy perched on top of one of many hills of Nepal above a sea of cloud would actually instill its worth in my mind. And make me truly feel it –maya– in my bones, in my soul.

Maya Universe Academy, founded by Manjil Rana who calls it a youth movement, with its bucolic setting, is a place where private education is free (the first of its kind in Nepal). But Maya is not just another school pursuing to educate the rural nooks of the earth; it seeks more than the conventions, and gracefully achieves it. It is a school that actually lives up to the meaning of its name – where love for one another thrives, and is contagious. I was immediately aware of this omnipresent force from the moment a small boy wrapped his tiny hand around my fingers after I’d just gotten off the bus with my friends. And instantly, I felt at ease and at home.

(Maya Universe Academy YouTube video) 

During my brief stay, I learnt how to collect fodder for the cattle from the local forest, and became aware of the hardships associated with it. I learnt how to make briquettes at the expense of being squirted with manure, but was glad that I was actually applying the Three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). I learnt how collecting firewood could be a tediously long task, but felt gratified when the smell of vegetable curry wafted the air. But most importantly, I learnt what the power of love could achieve when channeled positively.

One afternoon, I was blessed to have witnessed an act so selfless that it certainly restored my faith in humanity. Amidst the chaotic hustle-bustle of the lunch break was this small kid with no lunch, and no appetite for play. Manjil, the founder of the school, was quick to notice this forlorn kid and, without a second thought, gave him his plate of steaming noodles. I instantly realized that it was not just free education that Manjil provides these children, but that he also instills a sense of compassion and love by implementing it rather than just talking about it. And this compassion with which Manjil has founded this academy upon is definitely what sets Maya apart from other organizations that I have volunteered in.

The love was present even when the children were competing with one another for the ball, the love was present in the eyes of the ambidextrous mothers making necklaces as side businesses, the love was driving everyone to, subconsciously, create this serene milieu made the stay worth the bruise, the cut or the risk of encountering an unknown wild animal in forest. Inevitably, I was one of the members of the Maya family – exuding love and soaking that of others.

As I write this, I am enveloped by the tensions of upcoming midterms and pending essay deadlines, and naturally I am nostalgic of the mischief of the kids in Monkey class (It’s not called first grade, but Monkey class!!), singing Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds every morning before the start of the school, the feel of earth on that hill, and the crisp air of Maya.

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(Photo by author)

-Sonam

(Source for Cover Image) 

*Note from Editor: Sonam is a first year student from Nepal, and this is her first blog article as a The Things That Matter staff. Welcome, Sonam! 

Sentiments from the Diaspora: South Africa We Stand in Solidarity: Fees Must Fall

In the US we are so quick to use this “first world, third world” othering lens. I think the recent “Fees Must Fall” case in South Africa should be a catalyst to show people that the US, this “first world” nation, is also imperfect and is dealing with developmental issues that the rest of the world faces. Incredibly high tuition creates opportunity disparities. People from varying socio-economic backgrounds have a harder time getting in and staying in higher education because of the outlandish fees. In South Africa, youth led protests have brought a freeze on public universities’ tuition increases. This call for change is a lesson American youth could learn from, if we expect to see change.

Institutions across South Africa were expected to have between a 10%-12% tuition increase by 2016. These figures keep in mind the minority elite population and further the disregard of the lower income students. For the country’s small middle and upper class, the tuition raise isn’t much too fuss over, but for the majority of young people in South Africa, this is not something that they can’t watch happen. Youth lead protests against the fees increase have broken out around the country. On October 14th, students from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg started off the protests. Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town followed. The protests began as peacefully attempts to get the attention of the institutions. They began to reach dangerous levels when police intervened and used excessive force to maim them.

Witwatersrand University students protest against fee hikes in Johannesburg on 21 October (Source)

Witwatersrand University students protest against fee hikes in Johannesburg on 21 October (Source)

I have friends and family in South Africa and wanted an insider’s perspective of what’s been going on. My cousin who actually goes to University of Cape Town (UCT) laid it out for me like this: The protests began at his school a few weeks prior. Students at that time had been protesting the university’s outsourcing of janitorial jobs. The school wanted to employ workers from elsewhere, which would in turn discontinue local staff from receiving certain benefits like sending their own children to the institution with subsidy. The protestors at his school then joined in solidarity with protestors from other universities to voice their concerns with the inconceivable tuition increase. They shut down the campus and occupied public spaces so they couldn’t be ignored. UCT responded to the protests by signing a court interdict which banned the students from demonstrating in this manner. The students became aggravated by this seemingly flippant disregard for their concerns.

The students then held a mass meeting, where many of them were arrested. The group of students my cousin was with marched down to the police station to demand the release of their peers, but no one was released. They then moved their demonstration to the parliamentary offices. With the support of students from Stellenbosch University and Cape Peninsula University of Technology and other groups of students, they occupied parliament. My cousin and other protestors were met with heavily armed police. They were tear-gassed and stun grenades were used on them.

South African students protesting school fee hike (Source)

South African students protesting school fee hike (Source)

I am from a Southern African country and used to live in South Africa for a bit of time, so it’s hugely important for me to keep up with the goings-on of the area. But I think this case is of great importance to the Clark community and youth across the US because we are in a similar situation. We are at a time in the US where investing in higher education directly means being owned by debt for the majority of our lives. For many, college isn’t even something people can conceive for themselves because of the insurmountable tuition costs. Speaking personally, my family and I have had to sacrifice a lot for me to attend and stay at Clark. It’s daunting thinking about the amount of debt that I’ll be whittling away at for years to come.

This issue finally has gained a bit of headway in the US. President Obama has developed a plan for two free years of community college. Some of the current presidential candidates have even acknowledged the extremely high tuition rates and are promising plans that will elevate the pressures of debt. Bernie Sanders, for example, is saying he will work to make public colleges tuition free, which is incredible! I would love to see this come to fruition. I know many of us would love to not have to worry about being hounded by Sallie Mae.

Socialists Alternative is one student lead organization that, among other things, is fighting for free education. They have chapters across the US and the world. Even in South Africa. After speaking to the Clark branch of the group, it sounds as though they are right there in solidarity with the protestors in South Africa. The manipulation of education as a tool to generate profit is something that’s going on globally. A direct quote from James Patin, one of the Socialist Alternative members is:

“Education ought to be free because an education is, for so many people, the only opportunity for a better life. When we make education a debt sentence, we say that only the rich deserve the chance to better themselves. When we make college free, we declare everyone equal, and put more power into the hands of the vast majority of people.”

These sentiments echo exactly what the South African youth are working for. Although the #feesmustfall campaign isn’t calling for free higher education, they are demanding an education that isn’t exclusionary by socio-economics. It’s unreasonable for school fees to be raised above the rates of inflation.

Because the youth in South Africa have banded together and refused to be silenced, their concerns have been heard. Now, time will only tell if their wishes for reasonable fees will be met. Will American youth follow in their footsteps?

– Lulu

(Feature image on top is from: http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/10/26/s-african-students-to-fight-for-free-education/)