Hi! My name is Oumar. I am from Mali, a country in West Africa. I go to James Madison University. This is my first year in the United States. I love sports, especially basketball and soccer. Soccer for me is like something innate. As a matter of fact, in Africa soccer is a passion. Before they can even walk well, children learn how to play soccer in the street. There is a tournament between neighborhoods all the time and the winner team takes all the contributions brought by other competing teams.
In my family we have four children. All of us are boys. It’s considered to be quite a small family in West Africa but rather a big one for Westerners. I have two big brothers and a little brother. My little brother is always looking up to me, I am his role model. That’s why since he was born, I always did everything carefully because I knew my little brother will be watching me and for the first time that somebody is taking example on me. He brings lot of happiness in my life and helps me become mature and responsible.
When I came to US, I was a little bit lost. Even though I had come here to visit when I was little, the idea of coming and live here was quite challenging. United States is a country completely different from mine. People, the culture, the way of thinking, everything seemed so different and I knew it was going to take a long time for me to get used to that and I also knew that I could never be so familiar with that country to call it home. Being in the International Study Center at James Madison University I think, was the best thing for me. I was surrounded by other international students who also lack in English and we exchanged our culture during classes and outside classes. An interesting thing about Study Group managed International Study Center is, while you learn English, you also take some academic classes that are going to make your English even better and make you more familiar with JMU.
Since I was little, I always loved English. I’ve learned English in Kenya, one of the numerous countries I’ve been to. Learning English wasn’t obvious for me. I’ve always been in a French system and did everything in French till 12th grade. I didn’t miss an opportunity to practice my English. All the time I met a person who speaks English, I will talk in English even though I made lots of mistakes. Thus, my English level was a little better than most of my classmates. But I don’t complain for having been in a French system. Discipline, respect and course diversity were all the things I’ve learned. But I always knew I wanted to study in America. I have a passion for this country.
In high school I decided to specialize in science. Therefore, when I came to JMU I chose Biology as my major. I love biology and everything that deals with human body. The human body is a mystery to me and I want to know as much as I can about it. Later in the future I want to be a doctor. I am thinking of taking either pediatric or cardiology as a specialty. As a matter of fact, I love kids and all my friends soon or later say that I am a big baby myself. To reach that goal, I know I have years of studies to do but when I think about all the people I could help if I become a physician, the length of studies doesn’t scare me. I am scared of being discouraged because I know that I have a long way to do and that it is really competitive but as my dad told me, work always pays.