*Based on a true story, the name changed to protect the identity
Photo by CMI, 2020
Life is what you define it to be. Having different characters, personalities, and beliefs, makes it evident that the life journeys that people take contribute to how they define life. Here is *Diana, a young Black girl whose journey made her describe life in a unique way.
Diana’s early life experience was not a smooth one. She grew up striving with her academic choices. After finishing elementary school, she opted for an international school curriculum. International schools in Eastern Africa are still the most expensive schools costing more than five thousand dollars a year. Considering how financially unstable her family was, she was proactive in applying for a scholarship. Diana applied to five international schools. Her older sister helped her with the applications, and the first round of application reviews went smoothly for all the schools. It became hectic for the second round of applications.
One day she woke up to one interview and opened a rejection email from another school. Despite the encouragement from her parents and relatives that she should not give up, the rejection email made her feel dumb and insufficient for the scholarship. At that time in her life, she felt neglected. Yet, she still felt that maybe the following day, the coin would be favored on her side, but it never happened.
Her parents could afford a public secondary school located in a remote area across the country. Saying no was not an option for her, considering that she had no hopes of securing a scholarship and she ought to be grateful for the fact that at least she can go to school.
Public secondary schools on the African continent have proved to be a challenging and yet a phenomenal learning space for the growth of youth, especially girls. There are few teachers, limited educational materials, and little or no qualified wellness team that would support students’ mental health when necessary. Students would drop out of school because of early pregnancies.
This was much different from what Diana wanted to experience in an international school, where there were multiple opportunities across the globe and learning in a diverse community. Despite the shortcomings of public schools, educational organizations and NGOs take part in eradicating these challenges in one way or the other.
For a moment, when Diana enrolled in the public school, she thought that fear of having a new experience might be a lie. During her time there, she learned to live with individuals from different backgrounds. Some students came to school with more than a hundred dollars as a stipend from their parents, while others came without money to pay for a year's school fee which was less than thirty dollars.
Among many other lessons, Diana learned that appreciation of life’s meaning, and the unexpected experiences in our day-to-day lives are where happiness originates. These things help us to cherish and revitalize our lives.
When Diana looks back on her education journey, she does not regret the path she took to where she is today. Diana is now pursuing a business major at a Pan-African University, tailoring her mission in education consultancy to own her future and fulfill her dream of becoming an entrepreneurial leader.
Each one of us across the globe experience similar or different obstacles in educational spaces. Like Diana, let’s share our story and live our dreams.
Life is what it takes when one does not give up.