Benefits of Studying in Central Asian “Banana Republics*”
I am an American student. It sounds so proud but in reality it is not. Today, I am going to tell you why. When I volunteered in my country, Uzbekistan, Central Asia, I did not know that America do not have money to their own developing programs such as leaderships, team building, HIV high schools programs and others. Let’s face up, after graduation millions of students are staying with thousand $$$ loans. Why is that?
1. All programs that may pay for your school (MA, PhD) are not for Americans.
I was trying to find out that I can apply to DAAD (Germany), Fulbright (which is very easy to get from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan and other former soviet union countries), Japan Grant, China full tuition program, and it was close for Americans. I was thinking why? Why people give opportunities to others but not to developed countries? What if I want to study for free in China or Japan? Is that because I can have a loan and pay for my school? It is so unfair, I think. Where my taxes go? To develop other countries’ students? All of this programs stated that they help students from different countries to have a higher education. But who is going to help me to pay for my school? Who is going to invest in our education, the future of American nation? Who is going to help us to build a strong nation if we have $$$ thousands-loan and always think about how to pay but not how to help others?
PS. Of course, you can apply to Fulbright and other programs but ratio of Americans to International students is unfairly small.
2. No FREE trainings for Americans.
I was a leadership coach in Uzbekistan. All of our trainings were sponsored by international (at that time) organizations such as USAID, ACCELS, IREX, British Councils, German Consulate, French House and others. Coming here, it was my dream to become a leadership coach in US. It mesmerized me. I was very surprised when I found out that none of the leaderships programs exist in US. All leadership programs are NOT FREE!!! The cheapest one that I found was over $2000. (TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!) I called to the organization I mentioned above, none of them give small grants like they do in Central Asian Republics. None of them is going to sponsor you if you want to go to the conference (like they do in Uzbekistan). If you want to be a leader, PAY FOR IT. If you don’t have money, “IT IS YOUR PROBLEM.”
PS. The only FREE program that I found is BALI (Bella Abzug Leadership Institute) Leadership Program. Try to contact them, they are great.
3. Want Money? Become a project writer. (but again not in US)
In Uzbekistan, students can write a small projects to promote health or foreign language, HIV problems or gender inequality, fundraising money to NGOs (non-government organizations) or low-income institution like schools or PRE-K. All you have to do is to be communicative and concise writer. All you have to do is to write a project (1 page long + abstract and financial part (expenses) and present it, sometimes you can just send it by email (easy, right? and yes… no copyrights). You do not need to have a license to write it, no TAX ID… sounds like no responsibilities. But you have to write a report after your project (2-5 pages long). It should be perfect if you want to make it annually.
None of it exist in US. In US, if you want to make a project, you have to have a financial plan first, plan of realization, sustainability after it and of course, profit. No one will give you $300-$700 to implement “your one-day” project. Everything is very prudent in US.
PS. One of my good friend, social activist, said, “If you want to make a project (social or any type of project), you have to think twice before doing it. Everything can be your business; everything can be your money.
4. Minorities or Immigrants know more.
And yes, it is true. The “real” Americans, who were born here, have no idea how much money invested to the third countries, especially in education. As an immigrant, I know more exchange programs than a typical American student and more loops how to get scholarships and grants. Because I am an immigrant, everything is new and every step is a baby steps to have education and earn “deserved place under sun.” From my point of view, most of Americans, especially New Yorkers are minorities already (mixed ethnic groups, nationalities, races) and THEY NEED EDUCATION. To be minority is a benefit, but to be an American student in some parts is not.
PS. If you have an international student-peer, be with them and ask them how did they come here. Find out how they will pay for their schools, any grants or scholarships? How international students save money and how they earn them. Trust me, they know more than you. How? First of all, THEY know more languages than you that help them to use more sources. And the most important part is LIFE taught them to use every opportunity to study.
MY OPINION AND ADVICE:
I know that nothing will change in our, american educational system, but at least I can share this information with my overseas friends who is complaining about educational system. PLEASE, I BEG YOU, Study in Third Countries, Apply as a Third Country Applicant and Use all the benefits that I mentioned above. Remember “free cheese may be in the mousetrap only” or in “central asian banana republics.” Living in developing countries is a free investment (most of the times) in to your education. So, USE THEM!
*banana republic (noun).
– any of the small countries in the tropics, especially in the Western Hemisphere, whose economies are largely dependent on fruit exports, tourism, and foreign investors. My definition of Central Asian “banana republic” describes former soviet unions central asian republics.