New student from the Congo adjusts to life in Ames

The school is different. The language is different. The people are different. Edwige Mafuta’s setting has dramatically changed in the last couple months. Her journey from the Congo to Ames, Iowa has been an exciting and adventurous one. The busy streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, used to be home to Mafuta. “I lived with my mother, father, a brother, 3 sisters and 2 workers,” Mafuta said. Last summer, Mafuta came to Ames to join her mother, who moved here 3 years ago to study genetics at Iowa State. Her father still lives in the Congo with her siblings. Kinshawsa holds many fond memories for Mafuta, many of which bring a feeling of homesickness. Mafuta misses certain food items that she cannot buy off the streets here in Ames. “My favorite foods are Fumbwand, mixed vegetables with peanut sauce and Likayabu, a dried fish with salt.” Mafuta said. Another favorite memory of Mafuta’s is of the New Years Eve parties in Congo. Mafuta and her friends used to wait for the clock to hit midnight, and then they would sing at the top of their lungs. “In my country, we like to sing Rumba,” Mafuta said. Rumba is a musical genre that has gained popularity throughout Africa. “I like the music of my country but I also like American R&B,” Mafuta said. School in Kinshasa is very different from school in America. A typical school day in Kinshasa consists of 6 periods and only lasts from 7:50 a.m. till 12:00 p.m., with a lunch break from 10-10:30. “Grade 12 can stay at school longer – till 2:00 pm,” Mafuta said. The teaching style in Kinshasa is also different from the style at Ames High. “The students here read a lot more, and the teachers don’t summarize as much in class.” Mafuta said. “They all teach well, but I don’t know a lot of vocabulary in English, so the language switch is a bit difficult for me.” Mastering English shouldn’t be hard for Mafuta, as she is fluent in not only French, the dominant language in the Congo, but also Lingala and Kikongo, two dialects unique to her providence. “I was already finished with high school in the Congo” Mafuta said. However when she moved to Ames, she was told she would have to take 2 more years of high school. Starting out her junior year strong, Mafuta has a busy schedule packed with French 4, Chemistry, Advanced Algebra, U.S History, and English classes. “I really enjoy chemistry and algebra,” Mafuta said, “I hope to be a pharmacist someday.” After school, Mafuta runs with the girls cross country team, which she admits is hard work. “It hurts,” Mafuta said, “in the Congo, we weren’t doing [cross country] every day, only 3 times a week.” Taking one day at a time, Mafuta is still adjusting to her new life in America. Though vastly different from her homeland, Ames, Iowa seems to be a good match for Mafuta. “I like the quiet area and the kind people,” Mafuta said. “It is just a good place.”