From studies to beauty contests: what African students find at PSU

29.10.2019 11:11

“The first Russia-Africa Summit has come to an end. Drawing conclusions of its two-day work I can say that the event has really opened a new page in the relations between Russia and the African continent states”, said Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, about the Summit and Economic Forum, which took place in Sochi on 23-24 October. All 54 African states took part in it. The co-chairmen of the Summit were Russia and Egypt.

Meanwhile, educational and scientific relations between Russia and Africa are developing with each year: according to TASS, in 2019 about 2,000 African students entered Russian universities. It can also be seen by the number of students who come to Penza to get higher education.

Penza State University is the home for international students who have come from different parts of the world to get education, make friends and make their life exciting and interesting. PSU provides education for 1,785 international students, including 196 students from Africa: Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, Egypt, Benin, Ghana, Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, and South African Republic.

The life of international students is not limited to only studies, they take an active part in social and cultural life.

Nacer Mardakoremi is a young man from Chad who has been living in Penza for five years. Today he is smiling at passers-by and likes telling about his country, but when he first came to our city he didn’t know the language at all. He confesses that it was really hard at the beginning. “I arrived in Penza to study law and learn the language. My uncle is a diplomat who flies all over the world and I wanted to follow his steps. I speak Arabic and French well as they are official languages in Chad. But to work as a diplomat they are not enough. So I made the decision to go to Russia to get into the language environment”.

Nacer says that at first he entered the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in Moscow, but he couldn’t stand the rapid rhythm of the capital and moved to live and study to quiet and provincial Penza. “I don’t regret it at all. I have an opportunity to learn the Russian language and world law, and I even have enough time to attend classes of Spanish. Annually I take part in the International Forum “Dialogue of Cultures” which has become a discovery for me and a way to break stereotypes. I remember coming to the first forum and seeing a big delegation from Russia. I couldn’t understand why there were so many of them. I was sure that only Russians lived in Russia. And so I found out that there are such peoples as the Mordovians, the Tatars, the Chuvashes, the Ingushes. It was my small discovery of Russia. And I also learned what Russian discipline was like”.

The student from Chad is not only getting acquainted with the Russian culture but is also telling the local people about his country. “I am often asked why my clothes are so white (laughing). It is because of the special Lebanese fabric and our attitude to what we look like. The whiteness of clothes symbolizes purity of thoughts and intentions”.

Bulle Djamal Rahoi from Kenya is a sixth-year student of the Faculty of General Medicine. He is sure that it is important to break stereotypes. “When I flew to Russia I regretted that I had the ticket to Russia. Now I think that it was a happy ticket. The only thing I couldn’t get used to is Russian cuisine. Every day I cook Kenyan dishes for myself. I taste what the students from China, Turkmenistan, India cook. If I like their dishes I write down the recipes. In Russia I learned the language quite quickly, because I like studying and do it with great pleasure. I also help younger students and worry when they take exams. I advise everyone to come to Penza because there is nothing to be afraid of here. It is just stupid stereotypes”.

On 18th November, a Beauty, grace and talent contest among PSU international students will take place – “Miss World. Folk Queen – 2019”. Among the candidates for the crown are the students of the Medical Institute: Botros Mahrail Mayez Monir from Egypt and Dieti Dembele from Mali.

Under the project “Export of education” (part of the national project “Education”) the Institute of International Cooperation of PSU is ready for achieving new objectives in order to expand the geography and the number of international students at PSU.

Gleb Sintsov, Vice Rector for International Affairs: “Among our priorities in international education are increasing the number of international students to 2000, expanding the geography to 50 countries and launching new educational programmes in English (pharmacy, economics, information technologies)”.