February 2019: Get to Know Nadouba

From Malinke to Attiéké to Garba, Nadouba is bringing a bit of the Ivory Coast to the City of Brotherly Love.

Name: Nadouba Diakite
Hometown: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Africa
Program: IELP, one session

IELP: Nice to meet you, Nadouba! What was it like when you first arrived in the U.S.?

NADOUBA: The first time you’re here you don’t know anybody. I worried that I would have no one to speak with. But when I came here, people were so friendly. I naturally am a little but shy, but people told me, “No, it’s okay. We can speak together.”

IELP: What is your native language?

NADOUBA: French. In my country, we also speak Malinke. Some people speak Malinke, some people speak other languages. Some people understand it, some don’t.

IELP: How has the IELP helped you improve your English so far?

NADOUBA: Our teacher at the IELP is friendly. She speaks really simply. She pushes her students to say what they think and to be more relaxed.

IELP: How are your classes different from your home country?

NADOUBA: Here, there are more people from different countries. It makes you speak English! We all try to speak together and talk about cultures. American people really like to know about other cultures.

IELP: What has it been like to experience new cultures?

NADOUBA: One day we were going downtown with some guys, and I invited my Arabic friend. She said she couldn’t come because she couldn’t hang out with guys she didn’t know, only with her male brothers and cousins. I was so surprised and asked my sister about it when I got home, because it was my first time hearing about these kinds of rules in another culture.

IELP: What was your first impression of Philadelphia?

NADOUBA: I thought that the buildings here are a little bit old. On the Ivory Coast, we only have older buildings in the villages.

IELP: What is your favorite thing you’ve seen in Philadelphia?

NADOUBA: The Philadelphia Mint is my favorite place we visited with the IELP. They show you how they make the beautiful coins, and you can make your own coins, too.

Nadouba (far left) and her friends from the IELP.

IELP: If I only had 24 hours on the Ivory Coast, what would you tell me to see or do?

NADOUBA: You need more time! You have to go to a beach because it gets really warm. I really miss my country now because the winter weather here is so cold. Every Saturday at home we would go to a beach.

IELP: What do you think of the snow here?

NADOUBA: I saw snow for the first time here in the United States. I was sleeping and looked out the window and said, “What is this?” I went out to touch with my foot and I didn’t know what to do. Like, should I take an umbrella? People were looking at me like I was crazy!

IELP: What is your favorite meal from your home country?

NADOUBA: Garba! Everyone knows about that at home. It’s made with Attiéké (cassava plant pulp similar to couscous) and fish. It’s a little bit sour and has lots of spices.

Attiéké + fish = Garba.

IELP: What is your favorite American food?

NADOUBA: Spicy chicken sandwiches!

IELP: Where do you see yourself after the IELP?

NADOUBA: I want to come back here for a new session, and after that, if my English is pretty good, I want to keep going to college. I have an Associate’s Degree in Science Economy, so I want to keep going with that.

IELP: What is your favorite place on campus?

NADOUBA: I like to get food at the Student Center.

IELP: What advice would you give to students coming to the U.S.?

NADOUBA: Just to be yourself. Here, people don’t judge you. They don’t tell you what to do. Be relaxed and speak with people. Just be friendly and you will meet people.

Now, forget the blustery winter winds for a moment and imagine yourself on a warm Ivory Coast beach. Thanks for the daydream, Nadouba!