I consider myself the Libyan version of Hannah Montana!
I’m not a teen pop star, but I am a fortunate girl that got the opportunity to experience high school in two dissimilar countries. I studied freshman and sophomore year in Edsel Ford High School (U.S.A.), and I’m finishing my high school career in Zarqaa Al-Yamamma (Libya).
The regulations of Edsel and Zarqaa are contrastive in countless aspects. To begin with, Zarqaa is an all-girls school, which requires uniforms, while Edsel is a multicultural, mixed school with a limited freedom to wear whatever you prefer. Here in Tripoli*, we start our day with the traditional morning line. The highlights of it are the “exercises”, facing the flag while listening to the national anthem, and the occasional verbal abuse. A flashback of my days in Edsel reminds of how I used to set off my day in the cafeteria, and then rushing to class after the one-minute bell rings. The first core kicks off at 8:30 A.M., and the last bell rings at 12:40 P.M. unless we take a seventh period. The duration of the school day in America is much more prolonged.
There were various advantages that I had while I attended Edsel that I no longer can enjoy. First of all, I favor switching classes between each period than staying in one classroom for the whole day! Moreover, the curriculum in Libya is much denser than the States’ core curriculum. We take Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Math, English, Arabic, Journalism, Computer, and Islamic studies each year*. The definition of gym class here is going out in the school yard to walk or just standing in groups and talking. The lack of electives makes school much duller. Instead of a big cafeteria with tables for everyone, we get to go out in the same yard for 15 or less minutes. There is no need for a lunch menu ‘because they sell the same junk food every day. In the end, the students laugh and compare the school system to a prison system.
There were factors that made school a bit more endurable in the U.S. that are not existent here. Firstly, the labs’ requirements aren’t abundant enough. The majority of the materials, elements, tools, etc. in the science lab are not found, thus the cancellation of informative experiments is a regular solution. Forget trying to figure out the school’s Wi-Fi password because there isn’t even an Internet connection in the computer lab. Furthermore, the classrooms in Edsel had a fairly decent, beneficial learning environment. But unfortunately, the classrooms in Zarqaa are uninteresting and simple with their whiteboards, vandalized desks, and empty, white and grey walls. In addition, the after school programs that are familiar in Edsel Ford are only a daydream for the students of Zarqaa Al-Yamamma!
The other gigantic differentiation between the two high schools that I went to is the perception of the last year of high school. Prom, fun classes, Senior Pride Day, the walk down the hallways of Edsel, and graduation are just a small quantity of events that I will not get the chance to experience. In Libya, the last year of high school is considered the most important because it will determine your place in college, which is for free just in case you’re wondering. Finally, “Ho ha, you wish you were a senior” is not a chant I’ll hear in Zarqaa since no one really wishes to be one.
In spite of the fact that I am extremely critical about my country and its education system, I still love it and have big dreams for it. After all, we have just been through a revolution that didn’t turn out to be what most intended. Libya is still in a war-like state. Therefore, I comprehend that it’s complicated for us to achieve things as rapidly as the West. Optimistically, I expect to witness schools in Libya become more modernized in the near future.
Apart from all the contrasting, there are some things that students in both the U.S.A. and Libya can compare to. Whether it’s in Edsel or Zarqaa, a favorite teacher(s), class, and subject were always present. A dream and a life goal to accomplish are ambitions of people all over the world. In conclusion, a school will always be a place for knowledge and memories no matter what continent it’s placed on.
My high school experience is certainly a unique one. I strive make something worthy of the things I learned through it. All the people I have had contact with in Edsel Ford High School and Zarqaa Al-Yamamma have touched my life in a way that I can’t be appreciative enough for. I miss Edsel very much, but Zarqaa will do just fine for now.
Written by Nuha Dadesh
*Tripoli: The capital of Libya, where I reside.
* There are two divisions of high school. There is one that offers the subjects I listed, and there is another that has different subjects; History, Geography, Philosophy, etc.
* The photo shows the typical Libyan classroom and is taken from Africa Review website