Like the continent of Africa, SAIP is one of the most diverse groups on campus. It features members from more than 20 African countries with a wide range of interests, ambitions and goals. Becoming a member of SAIP gives you the amazing opportunity to meet all these people.
Hear their stories...
Banfora, Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is the fourth poorest country in the world. But it is vibrant. People are chill and the communities are very inclusive. Given that it is the country of Thomas Sankara, most people are very interested in politics and often spend hours discussing policy and news around a pot of tea on glowing charcoal. My middle school was filled with long nights studying and weekends in nightclubs (too broke to drink though), me playing basketball or soccer, hiking in the savanna, and investing hours into idyllic chatters fueled pubescent drama. After the national middle school exam (BEPC) in 9th grade, I moved to the capital city Ouagadougou to pursue high school at the International School of Ouagadougou which offered me a scholarship. The transition almost messed me up because all of the sudden I was away from friends and parents while taking classes in English (my third language) with the top 0.1% richest kids in the country. However, the four years ended up being alright and I grew tremendously, living numerous adventures ranging from organizing charity concerts to almost throwing up my heart as missiles were shot in the air during a protest against a coup.
Liliane Kevine Ikirezi
I am from Kigali.I am majoring in electrical engineering, but besides circuits I also spend a good amount of my time cooking and trying out new recipes! I went to Beijing and Shanghai during Spring break through a Penn program and it was one of the coolest experience I've had at Penn. As a new freshman reading this, my advice for you would be to never be afraid to seek help, get out of your comfort zone and explore new things, talk to people beyond your circle and continue being your wonderful self!
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Where is home?
A small beautiful city down an active volcano that offers the most beautiful sunset views with an amazing and resting breeze from the lake Kivu. Can you picture that? :) No, it's not paradise..It's my home town--Goma!
How has Penn been so far?
Leaving your country, your family, your friends and move to a new place can be very overwhelming. But you need to always look at the bright side of things! Penn is more than just a school, it is a huge opportunity to explore, learn, discover, adventure, and the place for first-time(s)... Don't set limits and allow yourself to leave your comfort zone; it's the only way you'll find your true self.
Afia Brago Adu-Gyamfi
Looking back, what I loved about my childhood experience in Ghana was being immersed in a community. I fondly remember many people who invested into my life: those neighbors who without fail gave me pocket money at the start of the school year, the shop keeper who would gladly give me free "kallypo" (a small boxed children's drink) as she saw me walking home from school, and my Sunday School teacher who would not hesitate to reprimand me. The privilege of growing up understanding that everyone has a role to play in the society, has shaped who I am and driven me to create a community wherever I go.
Penn is a great place to learn more about yourself and how you fit in the world. Be bold to try new things and take classes that may seem challenging. Allow yourself to have fun--that is what you will remember when you look back. Above all, join SAIP-it is an excellent community with resources aimed at helping you navigate life as an International Student America.
“My middle name is Tolaniawo, which means we are always looking to tomorrow. Coming to Penn has made me realize that that is how I want to live my life-that even though things may not seem like they are perfect today, I’m looking to tomorrow. I want to be always looking forward, believing that tomorrow is better than today, seeing what tomorrow holds.”
“I laugh about Nigerian problems because I’ve cried about them. When I see that 5 billion dollars is missing from the Nigerian treasury, for example, it means things are not going as they should be, but I’m still choosing to always look forward to tomorrow. But even as I think about what tomorrow holds for my country, who’s going to be there to look at it? It needs to start from somewhere. I’m getting sick of just talk. I’m tired of just sitting down here in Philadelphia, talking everyday about these issues and not doing anything about them. It is no longer enough for me to do nothing.
And so I started a list of everything I want to do for my country. Will it take me more than 20 years to tick every item off this list? Probably. But it puts things in perspective for me. It’s my start.
The people that have changed things, like those who fought for Nigeria’s independence, talked about the situation at hand, and then realized that they could do something about it. And they did what they needed to do, and here we are. That’s how I want to be.”