Say an wahala aka samu.“ („Hard work leads to success.“) This is the leitmotiv of the 20 year’s old student Issoufou from Niger. Coming from a small remote village far from the capital Niamey, this extraordinary student managed to attend a preparatory elite class for future engineers in France thanks to top performances in this home country. Even in France Issoufou belongs to the top of the class and has started giving free private lessons in mathematics and physics to his fellow students.
As one of 9 children of a farmer’s family, Issoufou took himself the initiative to ask his father for the permission to attend a school. During several years he had a walk of 8 km which he did twice per day. One day the Nigerian Government became aware of his top performances at school, offered him a bike and proposed him an honorary position as a student member of the Nigerian Parliament.
The next step of success was this top position at the school leving examination (A-levels) at the elite secondary school of the Nigerian capital. As the best student of his school, Issoufou was promissed a grant by the Nigerian Government for two years of studies in France. Unfortunately the promissed grant stayed away and after a few months, Issoufou found himself homeless in France during the week-ends and school holidays when the boarding school was closed.
Since October 2013 Management Mobility Consulitng has provided Issoufou with clothing and accommodation. A small additional monthly amount could be obtained from the Rotary Club.
Being asked about the most important difficulties in Europe, Issoufou replies unsmilingly : « I always thought that life was easy in Europe because people have enough to eat. After my arrival I got to know that this is completely wrong when you do not have enough money. »
Issoufou had also slightly underestimated the administrative obstacles to get a residence permit. After several visits of the « Préfecture », he finally managed to provide the necessary documents in the required form.
He has also observed a number of cross-cultural differences : « I am surprised that Europeans are occupied with work at any time of the day. In my country people only really work in the rain season. The rest of the year they play games or are involved into discussions which can last several hours or even days. They easily forget time completely. Personal relationships play an important role. People help each other. You do not need any external craftsmen to build a house because all neighbours and inhabitants of your village will help you. »
One of the biggest challenges Issoufou has been facing certainly concerns the different understanding of time in Europe. For him this is the first trip to a foreign country. Until know he only knew time indications as a rough guideline. In the beginning of his stay in France his time management had to be adapted to European habits.
His most important insights after his first months in Europe ? „I have learnt that in Europe everything is possible when you work hard. I will explain this to my family and friends at my return. When every Nigerian respects this, we could even overcome any future famine. » To reach this objective Issoufou has decided to study engineering at one of the French elite schools, such as « Les Mines » or « Polytechnique ». The entrance tests include several areas. The most challenging for Issoufou will be the swimming test. He has four months to learn swimming, certainly not a big issue for him compared to his efforts in the past.
We wish you good luck for his next steps. „Say an wahala aka samu.“