When Prosper Zongo rides up on his bicycle to volunteer here at LSS, he’s traveled quite a journey . . . much longer than the 2.2 miles that Google Maps might suggest.
Prosper is about 6,000 miles from his original home in Cote D’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast). He came to study at Augustana College here in Sioux Falls through the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.
“Augustana has been like a home for me,” he says. “Everyone is happy to have international students. I have never thought for one day that I made a bad choice in coming here.”
Since the first month he arrived in the U.S. in August 2012, he not only began attending classes, he has also volunteered to help teach them. Prosper, who is fluent in four languages: French, English, Dioula, and Moore, helps others learn language in English as a Second Language classes here at LSS Refugee and Immigration.
The classes have been great life and work experience, as he’s majoring in Education.
“Teaching is the first ambition of my life,” he says. “Sometimes students, even those who are older than me, ask if I can come back and teach tomorrow because they understand me. Unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow me to come every day.”
And the weather doesn’t always allow him to come either. He had to e-mail in January that he couldn’t volunteer at one of his scheduled times because of a snowstorm. But when the snow cleared a little in February, there he was again to volunteer, riding up on his bicycle.
Prosper said that he “sometimes” misses his country (with its warmer weather) and his parents and six siblings, but it helps that he has Skype and that one of his brothers came to join him here in Sioux Falls this year through a diversity visa.
He also isn’t too homesick because he plans to go back to visit his parents in Africa for a few months this summer before starting a Masters and eventually Ph.D. in Education back here in the States.
“This education here will make me a stronger candidate to change the education system in my country someday,” he says.
The regular experience of volunteering to teach others here at LSS has been one key part of his journey of bringing education to others. “Classroom volunteering has been a great learning process for me,” he says.
As Prosper studies hard at college and rides his bicycle in the cold to help others study, one truth becomes clear—if he finds prosperity in his life, it will be well deserved.
Post by Amy S.Z.
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