June 2018: Meet Mamadou

Welcome to the IELP Blog!


On the third Thursday of each month, we will hear from a different “wanderer,” an IELP student who will tell us about their adventures at Temple, in the U.S. and in their home country.


First up is…

Name: Mamadou Dembélé

Country: Mali, Africa

Program: IELP (3 sessions)


IELP: Hi, Mamadou! How did you decide to come to Temple?


MAMADOU: My sister had been in America for four or five years for school. She went on the internet and looked for “Best Universities in Philadelphia,” and she found Temple.


IELP: What are some things about growing up in Mali that are different from the United States?


MAMADOU: People don’t have the same education, but they focus a lot on their kids and family. People will ask, “How are you? How is your father, your mother, your uncle? Can I come to see you tomorrow?” We spend a lot of time together.


IELP: If I only had one day in Mali, what would you tell me to see or do?


MAMADOU: You should visit the city – there are so many good restaurants! You can do almost anything you want because it’s really cheap.


IELP: What's your favorite food from Mali?


MAMADOU: It’s an orange fried rice called zamai. You can add fish, meat, whatever you want. It’s just so good.


Malian dish called "zamai."
Zamai: orange & delicious!


IELP: This may seem like a funny question - what is your favorite word from your native language?


MAMADOU: My native language is French, but I prefer Bambara (a local language in Mali). My parents spoke Bambara, but they just teach us French in school. Everyone can speak Bambara, but not everyone can write it.


IELP: Let’s stick with Bambara then! What’s your favorite word to say?


MAMADOU: Ini tche – it means “thank you.” If you show that word to a Malian, I’m not sure he will understand, but if you say it to him, he will.


IELP: Now let’s talk about Temple. Where is your favorite place on campus?


MAMADOU: The Student Center. I go to eat and to the recreation room. Sometimes you get worried about life, but you can just go to the Student Center and forget your problems.


IELP: What's the most memorable thing you have seen or done in Philadelphia so far?


MAMADOU: The art museum is really interesting, and Liberty One Tower. If you go to the top, you can see the whole city and it’s really beautiful.


IELP: What was the hardest thing to get used to when you first came to the U.S.?


MAMADOU: I didn’t speak English. When I went to a restaurant, if I asked for a pizza, they would give me a hamburger. It was really hard at first.


(Readers, you can’t tell in writing, but the IELP has clearly paid off. Mamadou’s English is amazing now!)


IELP: What's the best lesson you have learned while studying English in the U.S.?


MAMADOU: Try to meet people. That will help you a lot. At first you don’t speak the language and you don’t know where your classes are. Sometimes, you can feel the separation. But when you meet friends here, even if they don’t understand what you’re saying, they will be like, “Okay, that’s cool!” That’s why I love it here!


IELP: What would you tell other international students who are coming to study in the U.S. for the first time?


MAMADOU: You will not regret it. If you just stay in your country, you may meet only Asian people, or European people. But if you come to the IELP, you will meet every kind of person. You will learn a lot of things from your new friends and teachers. That’s the important thing.


Now we’re off to search for some zamai. Until next month, ini tche!