Home > Congolese Fulbright Student Sets Educational Goals
At the US Embassy in Brazzaville, Congo (or the “Villa Washington” as it’s known by locals), there is an American Corner every Thursday where young people can come to practice their English language skills. It was here that Goma Mabika first heard of the Fulbright Program. When the opportunity to study in the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship was announced on one of these Thursdays, hundreds applied. After a preliminary test, those hundreds became just twenty finalists. After a second round of selections, the number had been cut down to five scholarship winners; Mabika was one of them and on the road that would lead him to Lehigh University’s College of Education in the Fall of 2010.
Mabika at the United Nations
In his home country of the Republic of Congo, Mabika worked as a high school teacher, having earned a master’s degree in English as a Second Language. Despite his success, however, he felt the need that "it was not enough," and wanted to keep moving on to a higher position of leadership as a school principal, and a graduate degree in the US promised a means to make that goal a reality. After completing an intensive English language course at SUNY Buffalo, Mabika came to Lehigh and enrolled as a student in Lehigh's Comparative & International Education program in the hopes of gaining the skills that might allow him to become a national policymaker in the Congo.
In his first semester, Mabika says that he’s learned a lot, and benefitted greatly from the CIE program’s combination of academic training and practical experience. In addition to classes, he’s become involved in the Caring for Cambodia-Lehigh Partnership on the Fundraising & Grantwriting Committee, and also in the South Africa Education Development Initiative, working on life-skills education for HIV prevention. As a university, he adds, Lehigh offers a wealth of resources in comparison to schools in the Congo in terms of library materials, technology, and services. He has also recently been selected as an intern with the new United Nations Acadenic Impact, working with universities in Francophone Africa.
Personally as well, his time at Lehigh has thus far been quite rewarding. Besides the helpfulness and friendliness of his peers, he’s found his professors to be caring and personable people eager to hear his own views on classes and his progress. Though American food, Bethlehem’s weather, and the Lehigh community’s constant use of the internet (“even to find a supermarket”) have taken some adjusting, friends have been always ready to help, as has Lehigh’s Fulbright staff.
Looking ahead, Mabika hopes to continue to expand his knowledge on global issues and to get the chance to do field work internationally. Looking further, he’s eager to pursue a PhD in education before returning home. Speaking about the Fulbright Program, he says, "You know, nothing's perfect, but this is really great." As an organization, Fulbright has been as dependable and thorough as possible during his experience, and he’s proud to call himself a Fulbright Scholar.