This week, we turn to current student, Gideon, to hear about his experience as an international student in the program and #WhyMAIS was the right choice for him
What attracted you to USF and the MAIS program?
It had everything I wanted to learn about. I actually chose USF because of the content of the program -– development, environment, human rights, and similar focuses. I hadn’t done a lot with human rights, academically, so that was actually one of the main attractions.
The program is interdisciplinary, and I appreciate the anthropological approach as well. They want you to understand the real world to some extent. To not just get an idea of how it is, but get some kind of practical case studies, which is helpful to me.
Describe your first semester.
I’m an international student and coming from a totally different background. I’m coming from an academic environment with a different approach to issues. I have such a conflict of ideas, like, “This is what I used to know, and this is a new dimension of what I think I used to know.” I needed to find a balance in that knowledge and I tried to avoid stereotyping. I still struggle—I try to be open-minded about that, so I can gain new knowledge.
On the practical side, everything is different. It’s a new set of people, and I realized I need to learn people’s gestures. For instance, here, people smile as part of a cultural greeting. In Africa, smiling is not something that you just get from everyone.
What’s the most interesting assignment you’ve completed?
I think it would be the topic of torture from the human rights class. I’ve always been interested in human rights issues. Doing research for that paper and trying to understand how some of these tortures actually work and how it’s practiced was very interesting to me.
What is your favorite San Francisco or campus spot?
The campus is very beautiful— every part of it is beautiful work. I like to study within the science building’s Getty Lounge— a seating area where everything is glass so you can see outside. And there’s the silent study center in the library. But outside? I haven’t really had time to see around San Francisco yet, but I’ve been to Pier 39 and to Golden Gate Park.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
For international students, irrespective of the country, they should be open-minded. They should be friendly, as personable as they can. And they should learn to speak out— you don’t need to keep things to yourself. You should talk to your professors and talk to the department, and try to be yourself.