International Scholars Stop at SU to Prepare for Stint in American Higher Education

Aug 9, 2017

Left to right, Wirngo Clare of Cameroon, Eda Atmaca of Turkey, Mansoor Aqrar of Afghanistan, and Marlon Ac of Guatemala.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Nearly three dozen Fulbright Scholars from around the world are wrapping up a four week pre-academic program at Syracuse University preparing them for studies at universities across the U.S.  They learned the basics of how to give a presentation, take notes, as well as the legal and cultural nuances of America.  We caught up with four of them.  Mansoor Eqrar is an architect in the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing in Afghanistan.  He says the country's architecture is in a "bad situation" because buildings are imitating designs from Pakistan, Dubai, and other neighbors.  Eqrar wants to return a sense of identity and safety to buildings in his war-torn country.

"We can't say that because of the war let's forget our identity and build whatever we want.  There are some buildings that are not safe.  For example, when suicide attacks happen, glass shatters and injures people.  There are some building that do not have emergency staircases."

Eqrar feels he can have a bigger impact by working for the ministry than if he owned his own architecture firm.         

Eda Atmca is from Turkey, and is specializing in cell and molecular biology.  She says America has far more resources to support researchers like her.  She says Turkey's economy and budget just can't provide that level of support.

"I'm hoping to learn as much as I can here in the stem cell area.  Then I want to apply it...maybe my PH.d.  I want to be an academician.  I love teaching, I love reading and learning, doing research.  This is what I like.  This is what I am."

Eda will be pursuing her Master's at San Francisco State University. 

Meanwhile, Marlon Ac's studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will focus on improving the coffee and cacao industry in Guatemala.  He says the U.S. presents a great chance to network with others from around the world who buy his country's products, and to take advantage of strong research opportunities.

Credit cies.org

"I hope to learn how to improve post-harvest techniques that we can use in my country.  We don't have so much research.  Quality is everything for these products.  We can improve the income of the farmers in the rural areas, and they can improve the quality of their lives."

Over in Cameroon, Wirngo Clare hopes to become one of the few in the west African country with the credentials and training to teach those with disabilities.  He's already a certified teacher with a Bachelor's Degree in special education.  He says there is virtually no one in the field, and no one to train them because the resources just aren't there.  Clare sees deficiencies in schools, and the need for advanced knowledge to help children.

"Families sometimes are ignorant of what to do and where to go with their children.  It can be very frustrating for them.  So they need someone who can talk to them, someone who can address the nature of their children, someone who can tell them this is not a helpless situation, it is a hopeful situation.  We should be using the disability as a resource, not a liability to the family."

Clare is pursuing a Master's in special education at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.  The scholars are finishing their orientation program at SU Friday.