Student Highlight: Nile Walker
Freshman Student from Zimbabwe
Q: Could you briefly describe the difference between the educational system in Zimbabwe and in the United States?
The major difference between the education systems of the two countries is in the opportunity for every person to have a good, if not an excellent, education. Where I come from, public schooling is firstly not free, and secondly and most importantly, it is not what many would regard as a decent education. This therefore leaves private schooling as the "go – to" solution for any student who can afford it. The private schooling sector of Zimbabwe is in fact very good, and the people who attend these schools take the International Cambridge Examinations during their final years at high school.
Other differences between the education system of Zimbabwe and that of the United States include such things as the fact that back home the school year starts in January and runs until Decevmber of that same year. There are three semesters (which are called terms), and they are placed such that it is three months on, one month off.
There are certain things which are similar in the two education systems, one of them being the emphasis on sporting events. In Zimbabwe school athletes play games such as rugby, field hockey, and soccer. Students derive a sense of pride in their schools based on games between rivalling schools.
Upon my arrival here in Texas, I noticed that the opportunity to achieve a good education in the United States is evidently very widespread. Based on my background, I would encourage anyone within the system to grab the opportunity as fast as you can, and make the most of it!
Q: What was it like growing up in Zimbabwe? Does your family have deep roots in the country?
Zimbabwe is still dealing with certain consequences of the civil war and the country gaining its Independence from Britain. Being an African country, there is a greater percentage of black people, and unfortunately there have been racial disputes and tension.
Both of my parents were born and raised in Zimbabwe, with my grandparents for the most part being brought up in Zimbabwe. My family's heritage is primarily based in farming. My grandfather and uncle were famers who focused on Tobacco.
Q: What is your major? Why did you choose to come to Texas Tech?
I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering, as it incorporates so many academic things that I like such as the sciences, design, and project management. However, I am a freshman and a lot can change in four years, so I will just trust that God has the bigger picture under control.
I came to Texas Tech mainly due to having family nearby in Texas, and in fact my cousin is a sophomore at Tech. I am quite fortunate to have this local backing, and am grateful to them for what they have done for me thus far.
Tech also has a very good engineering program, giving me a solid platform from which to launch my career.
Q: Have you been here long enough to have any favorite Tech traditions?
Many of the traditions at Tech I have seen (thus far), revolve around the huge game of Football! Certain things like the wrapping of the statue near Memorial Circle in red crepe paper in anticipation of a game are exciting and make you feel like a part of the community. Other than that, the actual home games are in themselves a hub of traditions at Tech, with things like the unorthodox throwing of Tortillas as well as the Going Band giving a very well-rehearsed show at half time. These are all things that I enjoy.
Q: What is it like for you as an international student living thousands of miles away from home?
Honestly, at the moment I am still processing it all--it still feels surreal. The concept of coming to a whole new place and having to take care of yourself emotionally, financially, mentally and socially, are both exciting and daunting.
Missing home is a given, and I am grateful for things like Skype which allow me access to my friends and family on the other side of the world.
Q: What have you found most interesting about American culture?
American culture is significantly more encouraging of audacity than that of my home country's culture. The whole "Let's do this big" mindset is evident, and the culture of Texans is similar to that of many of the people from where I am from, so encountering people in this part of the United States has not been a head-dunking experience. This being said, I have heard that people's attitudes and opinions vary widely from region to region (especially in the North). This is exciting and I am interested to travel (as if I have not done enough of that for a while) and see what other places are like!