US Student Pen Pal Questions and Answers-All text and photos on the Alliance for the Lost Boys web site is copyright protected and cannot be used without written permission.

Questions from Southern Sudan for American students:

Students are given many choices in regards to education in the US. The answers provided below come from three students attending various types of schools in the US:

  • Courtney, age 11, grade 6, is home schooled (she attends classes at home).
  • Jared age 15, grade 8, attends classes at a public school.
  • Victoria age 16, grade 10, attends classes in a private school.

Q1. How is the standard of education in America?

Courtney: I am a home school student, my standard is higher because I am the only one in my class and I get individual instruction. I also get to choose the curriculum that I want to use for my grade level.

Jared: It’s very good, because all of our teachers have to have college educations. Not just anyone can be a teacher, you have to have a special teaching certificate.

Victoria: It is the law in America that you have to go to school until you are at least 16 years old. Once you turn 16, you can decide if you want to continue your education or drop out of school.

Q2. What are the challenges you face as a student/pupil?

Courtney: One challenge I have is getting good grades. Another one is being able to meet other kids my age since I go to school at home and not in a regular classroom. I work hard to overcome these challenges by belonging to a group that is made up of other home school students like myself and by working hard to be a better student.

Jared: Some of the problems I face at school is all the drama of other kids trying to get along with each other, having to do reading assignments and writing essays.

Victoria: Some of the challenges I face as a student revolves around the drama amongst other students in the class (arguing, fighting, gossiping, etc.). I also think that teachers aren’t always open to the fact that they are wrong sometimes. It bothers me that teachers don’t allow students the opportunity to be right for a change and admit that they may be wrong.

Q3. Would you mind visiting us in Sudan to see how we are progressing?

Courtney: When I am older I would maybe like to come for a visit.

Jared: Yes, I would like to do that one day!

Victoria: I would find a visit to South Sudan very educational for myself and also for students in South Sudan.

Q4. Is education important in your life?

Courtney: Yes, because I need a good education to be able to have a good job when I’m older.

Jared: Yes, because without an education, you can’t proceed in life to get a better job.

Victoria: Yes, because an education is the base of all learning to me.

Q5. Does the government pay your school fees for the primary and high school level?

Courtney: No, the government does not pay for my school fee’s/supplies, because I choose to attend school at home instead of going to public school. My mother teaches me and my younger brother at home and my parents are responsible for all of my class curriculum, supplies, books, etc.

Jared: Yes, the government pays for our school books, computers, desk and chairs, our teacher’s salaries and our curriculum. But we have to pay for our own gym clothes, student ID badges, paper and pencils, etc. We also have to pay for school lunches unless you don’t have the money and then the government pays for your lunch each day. We get to take our school books and library books home at night, but if we lose them our parents have to pay for new ones and they are very expensive. If you live far away from the school, the government pays for your transportation to the school by bus. It makes a lot of stops and is very noisy and hot, but it can be fun sometimes because you get to be with your friends.

Victoria: I go to a private school so my parents have to pay my tuition. The tuition for private schools usually cost anywhere from $3000 to $10,000. a year and we have to buy our own books, uniforms, gym clothes, school supplies, etc. The government does not pay the salaries of teachers in private schools. Some private schools have buses, but they usually cost money. Most kids are driven to school by their parents or older siblings. Sometimes parents car pool and take each others kids to school in groups. One parent might drive the kids to school in the morning and another parent might pick them up in the afternoon.

Q6. What are some of the punishments you get from school when you disobey?

Courtney: I have to redo my school work if I do it wrong.  I also might have my privileges around the house taken away as punishment (watching television, playing on the computer, or talking to my friends on the phone).

Jared: Sometimes we get warnings or written citations to our parents. If you are really bad, you may get sent to the principle and your parents have to take off from their jobs to come to the school and meet with the principle and your teachers. If you get in a fight, or try to hurt someone, you may even get sent to the juvenile detention center (this is like a jail for minors) or to a special school for problem students.

Victoria: If we are late to class three times we get a detention and have to stay after school for an hour and sit at a desk without talking or do school work. We can also get a detention for things like being disrespectful to others, chewing gum, uniform violations, using a cell phone at school, not doing your homework, or forgetting to bring your school supplies/books to class. If you get 3 detentions, you have to go to school on a Saturday for three hours and pick up trash around the school.

Q7. What are the common diseases in America?

Courtney: Some of the diseases in America are colds and flu.

Jared: Some of the common diseases are Aids, HIV, STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) and cancer.

Victoria: Some of the common diseases are staph infection, heart disease and obesity.

Q8. What is your religion and how is it important to you?

Courtney: I am a Christian, it is important to me because I want to share God’s word with the world.

Jared: I’m a Christian. I think it is very important to have a good relationship with God.

Victoria: My religion is Catholicism and it is very important to me. I base my daily life off it. I pray every day and every night before I go to bed and attend church on every Sabbath. Being a high school student is sometimes hard, so I turn to God and my youth group at church for support.

*Students in America come from many different religious backgrounds such as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhism, Judaism, etc. Some people in America don’t believe in God at all. Students from all religions attend classes together in the same schools.

Q9. What activities do you participate in as a student?

Courtney: Some activities that I participate in are playing the Piano, Field Trips to the zoo, museum, etc. and American Heritage Girls (This is a character building club for girls where we do arts and crafts, go camping in tents and learn how to help others and make good decisions in life).

Jared: I participate in sports like football and golf. I’m also in the National Junior Honor Society, which is made up of students with exceptional grades.

Victoria: I’m on the Women’s basketball team at my school. I’m also a member of the NJROTC (Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps ). This is a military based program where we practice marching and marching drills. I’m also a member of INTERACT, which is a group of students that participate in community volunteer service and I have contributed a lot of time with Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan to help local Sudanese in our community. Next year, I hope to be on the swim team at my school.

Q10. Will you be able to connect with your government to support us in our learning, concerning school materials and building?

Courtney: This is something I might be able to do when I am older.

Jared: I’m really to young to connect with government officials, but I will do the best that I can to speak up for the Sudanese people.

Victoria: I don’t know how much I can do to help Southern Sudan, but I will certainly try by speaking out on your behalf and helping the Alliance for the Lost Boys.