Our program featured Franklin and Marshall College sophomore Liantsoa Rasoanjanahary who hails from the country of Madagascar. She told us how, as a young girl, she dreamed of one day studying in the United States. Educational opportunities in her home country are quite limited. She knew she had to learn English to have a chance at studying abroad. Her search for affordable English lessons led her to the LIME (Lafayette Initiative Malagasy Education) program at Lafayette College.
The Lafayette students helped her learn and find a way to South Africa where she studied at the African Leadership Academy. She spent a semester in England, and then a semester at home taking online courses until being accepted at F&M. There was a certain amount of culture shock waiting in the States. She was introduced to new expressions in the language. The idea that professors would ask her opinion in class was a new experience. Education in Madagascar does not focus on critical thinking. She felt the pressure of being the only Malagasy student because she felt that she, personally, was representing her country, Africa, and all non-USA people. She soon noticed a pyramidstyle social hierarchy at school with athletes at the top, Greek society in the middle, and everyone else at the bottom. Even small things such as sales tax and tipping were new.
She has tried to limit her fast-food intake and maintain a diet of vegetables and fruits like back home. Her sweet tooth and fondness for Oreos and ice cream can make a dent in that healthy diet. In her spare time, she likes to frequent the local ice cream store, shop at the farmer’s market, and bike around town. She is already involved in Club Council, the African-Caribbean Association, and the Black student Union. She is excited to witness her first snowfall and hopes to return home during summer break. Easton Rotary will stay in touch with Liantsoa as she continues her educational journey.