Sunday, July 10, 2011


Summer (High) Schooling at Harvard

They come in droves. The figure is 1,200 to be precise. Their destination: Harvard University.

I am talking of secondary/high school students who have registered for Harvard Summer School program that kicked off last month. It is a chance of a lifetime to attend, albeit briefly, arguably the best university in the world. In fact to some, if not many, it is the only opportunity to do so.

Yet there are those who see this as a prelude to joining this prestigious institution as freshman/women in the coming year(s). You can bet that probably they have come to impress their would-be admission officers. Yes, for sure getting an A credit in Harvard is impressive.

One can only imagine the competition that these high school students, in their teens, have to endure to make it to the Ivy League. Of course this consortium of 8 highly prestigious US universities is rightly called so for leagues are all about competing. On this note let us take time to listen to Aissatou Barrie-Rose, aged 16, from St. Paul’s School who is taking a French course.

Aissatou will be entering her final year of high school this upcoming fall. As a child whose both parents graduated from Yale University, an Ivy League member, it is natural for her to dream (big) of a kind of college she wants to go to – of course this can make one can talk of class reproduction. At a glance her composure can even make one mistaken her for a Harvadian.

She is in fact performing very well in the fast-paced French class, blending easily with the experienced Harvard students. Sheer modesty remains Aissatou hallmark; “French will eventually come to us”, she encourages with an adage those struggling to learn a new language.

What Aissatou represents is a new generation of Americans, the likes of Barack Hussein Obama who, though born and bred in USA, have at least one parent/grandparent who is/was a relatively recent immigrant from Africa. When one ask whether they are continental or diasporic African, the American in them stares, puzzled, at you. Why should it matter when they are US citizens?

Talking of her future prospect Aissatou mentions Harvard as one of the universities she is thinking of joining after graduating from high school. To them there are three types of universities: (1) reach schools; (2) possible schools; (3) safety schools. Trying to get top ones is the challenge she has set upon herself whilst acknowledging the importance of ‘fall back’ ones.

Focus is something that also defines this would be university applicant. For a year she learned and mastered the Mandarin language in China which is also credited by her high school. From what Aissatou says one can sense that it is not by accident that she is learning yet another international language; after all her plan is to study Business and International Trade in college.

Come ‘Fall 2012’ when Freshmen/women enters the doors of higher learning institutions one wonders where all these high school students will be. Could it be that they will be re-entering the famed gate of ‘Harvard Yard’ engraved with these immortalized word: ‘Enter to Grow in Wisdom’? Chasing Ivy League’s American dream is indeed competitive but, yes, they can!


Chemi Che-Mponda July 19, 2011 at 5:41 PM  

Harvard Summer School is a nice stepping stone for wealthy kids.

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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