In the last twenty-or-so years Albertine Sadio has traveled across an ocean and the United States, taking on the roles of mentor and mother along the way. Across all that distance and time she has carried within her an inspiration instilled by a childhood teacher in her home country of Senegal. That inspiration has shaped her life and now, as she works toward becoming a teacher herself, she hopes to pay it forward by inspiring the lives of others in the same way.
Senegal is a country in West Africa, a place rich with a variety of local cultures and native languages, but the official national language is French. It was in this setting, and because of that diversity, that Sadio became inspired.
“English is my second language. My English teacher in high school was from Great Britain and I fell in love with the language while learning from him,” Sadio says. “I said to myself, if this teacher is able to get through to me in a different country that is so different from his own, why couldn’t I do the same? I decided then that when I grew up I was going to be a teacher like him. That’s how I found my passion.”
Sadio went on to attend college at Cheikh Anta Diop, a university in Dakar, Senegal and earned a bachelor’s degree in English as a Second Language. During that time she came to the U.S. as part of a diversity exchange program through her college.
“Our role through the program was to introduce our culture and the French language to elementary school students. I ended up going to North Dakota for about a year to do that.”
From there Sadio moved to Rhode Island to live with family. She got married, had children of her own and dedicated herself to the care of her two boys. But she never forgot her passion.
She found a way to fulfill part of it – working with children – in her job as a case manager for adolescents struggling with substance abuse. Sadio says she enjoys her job and the opportunity to mentor and counsel young people, but she still has dreams of being a teacher.
She first heard about Providence College School of Continuing Education and its Teacher Certification Program (TCP) ten years ago, when she ran into an old childhood friend from Senegal. He had earned his teaching certification from SCE and was teaching French at a local high school.
“He said, ‘You need to go to this program, it’s a great program,’” Sadio recalls.
So when she felt ready two years ago, she took the leap and enrolled, and was even able to transfer some credits from her college in Dakar. She said she had her worries at first about how she would balance her full time job and going back to school as a mother in her forties. But, she says, the supportive atmosphere at SCE has made it possible.
“I would recommend it to anybody, I have had the best experience there,” she says. “I am an adult over 40 and I’m a mom, but the evening and summer classes are so convenient. The teachers are always an email or phone call away and they are really willing to work with their students. They know that we are parents first and have been away from school for a long time. And the students help each other.”
Sadio also credits PC’s diverse student body with making her feel at home.
“PC really reminds me of my school setting at home and it’s a very comfortable setting, a very diverse community. It’s just like the Catholic schools back home, welcoming to everybody from every race, creed and religion. I have that same sense at PC, so I feel at home there. There are friendly faces no matter who you are or what you look like.”
Sadio is hoping to finish the TCP program and receive her certification by spring of 2018. Her goal is to teach her native language, French, preferably in an urban setting.
“I did my student teaching program at Classical High School [in Providence, RI] last spring and it was a wonderful experience,” Sadio says. “I would really like to teach in an urban setting and help young kids at risk to stay in school and to learn a different language. The students are eager to learn, and I am eager to teach it and pay it forward, like the teachers in our country who were helping us to learn English. Because of them I am able to be here in the U.S. today.”
I would say to everybody that’s thinking about going back to school, especially if you’ve been away for a while, don’t be scared. If I can do it, anybody can. I was so afraid, but the instructors made me feel at ease. They know we have fears, and less time than the average student, so they push us and make us believe in ourselves. You just have to believe – you can do it. We can do it.”
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