My Thoughts on Integration

Name: Paulin Agblewonu

Country of Origin: TOGO

Some of the  young people  in my country and in Africa in general dream about  coming to the West for their  university degree and to get the best education. In my opinion, the best knowledge and education goes hand in hand with integration in the society and the environment in which you are studying. I came to Canada to study, just like many  young African dreamers. One thing I noticed first within my host university was that the foreign students always socialized among themselves. For me personally,  this doesn’t bring integration.

Some of the courses at the university reflected the worth , the cultures and  the habits of the places of the local environment. I remember one of the  classes I took  called  “Ecology of Plants”. This course was about plants,trees, leafs  and in brief,  about all vegetation of the Canadian environment . We had to learn the names of plants, of trees, their colors, their seasons, the names of fruits they produce and the savour of certains fruits. It won’t be surprising for many people to hear that one of the trees we focused on was the Maple Tree.  In Canada there is more than 100 types of maples (The maple leaf is depicted on the Canadian flag).

So in the class, I had to learn about  100 types of maples . To tell the truth, I had never seen the maple before in my life. If someone were to  ask me  about the names of the trees and fruits from my country, I would be able to  answer.  But, I couldn’t say the same about  Canadians trees.  How could I ? For Canadians students,  this course was easy. They knew the name of the trees, along with the seasons they grew in. So, I spent more time studying than my Canadian classmates.  However, for The partial examen, my score was D+. I went to my teacher and asked her  about  why I  received such a low mark, despite having spent so much time on the   course. Her response was : ” I understand. All Africans students run into the same problem in this course. It’s one of the  easiest courses for Canadians students, but not for foreign students because there are so many things to learn, which is easy for students who already know about the maples. ”

I then realized that if I wanted to succeed in this country , I needed to know more than what I was learning. I realized that the more I integrated myself within the society in which I was a part of ,  the more I would be able to really understand  things around me.

Personally, I believe that  integration within a  society is the whole of the interactions between the members, causing a feeling of identification to the group and its values. If I identify myself with the society in which I am living , I can reach the same goals as well as many of the natives. A lot my classmates  are now finished with school but can’t find a job . This is due to a lack of integration.

I’ve finished my studies  with the same marks as my other classmates. I believe that, as foreign people in another country,  we have to assimilate ourselves within our host society. We don’t have to be unaware of our origin society but we have to respect the worth and the culture of the society in which we live. This can also open those doors for our success in that society.

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