Learning through Reflection
- 7 Posts
In the last couple of days, I have been participating in a sort of summer camp organized by NATEG.
NATEG is the abbreviation of “North America Tunisian Engineering Group”. It is an organization created by Tunisian engineers working in north America (Canada and USA) and the “NATEG days” event is one its projects. During three days of workshops, conferences and networking dinners, the participants, mainly engineering students or freshly graduated engineers, had the chance to learn from guest speakers and interact with them. I attended the 2013 version and few days ago I also attended the 2014 version which has as a theme “Succeeding in engineering”.
The main idea of the NATEG days is to build bridges between Tunisians engineers residing in North America and current engineering students in Tunisia. Yet, the guests were from all over the world sharing their advices and the way they see excellence and success. Every speaker had his own story, his own path and his own success. The things they had in common were mainly their humble behavior and their passion for their fields of work. Let me tell you something:
Since the elementary school, I have been curious about successful people. I’m not only talking about famous success stories. In fact, it goes from the neighbors’ son who had a “great job”, my sister getting a regional prize, the boy who had the best score in the baccalaureate exam, to Einstein, Steve Jobs, Ada Lovelace…
I made researches about the persons I considered successful, knew approximately every single detail and I mean listening to the same music they liked and learning by heart my sister’s essays. Even when my parents punished me I used to tell them while smiling that it’s ok since every successful person struggled in his life. That was funny. But if I learned something during the last years, it would certainly be that we can never be a copy of anyone. Every single person need to find his own path. Others can be an inspiration. No matter how much advice you get, you’ll fail in something, you’ll make some faults and get into some troubles. But that’s fine because your failures will make your story more interesting and your path more challenging.
I’m not telling you that the thing that doesn’t kill you will make you stronger because sometimes your self-confidence will get down and the bigger your ambition is the more disappointments you’ll face. But again that’s ok because you’ll need every rocket you fall in to build your own stairs to reach the goal.
I didn’t reach my goal yet and maybe a twenty-year-girl who’s still discovering her way and drawing her path is not the best person to get certain facts from. But listening to the successful stories during the “Nateg” days made me believe more than ever before that nothing is shameful about failing or even not being certain about your passion at this age. We’re still learning and maybe some of us still need to experience more things before getting their dream job or their personal satisfaction.
Besides the knowledge I gained and the new relations I made during the event, I’ve got some reflections about the engineering studies that I would like to share with you. For example, the NATEG members are mainly Tunisians that got scholarships many years ago to study abroad, mainly in the US and Canada. Those scholarships were provided by the government back then for those who excel in their high school studies. Similar programs were provided in other fields and for different levels of studies. We’re talking here during the eighties or even before that.
And even though those programs made it possible for brilliant students to excel and reach a high level in their careers and life, an end were put to those scholarships. Let’s say they have been reduced to only approximately thirty students finishing their high school and having the privilege to be sent to study in France or Germany. Some people blame the previous generations settling down in the foreign countries and never returning to help build the country that once helped them reach great levels and financed their studies. Or maybe we have current alternatives in Tunisia?
Well, I am not quite sure. I won’t be talking of all engineering institutes because I don’t have enough information about the quality of education there. Yet, prestigious institutes don’t really meet their students’ expectations. Every student has to make huge efforts to get the required level in the absence of counseling or an acceptable quality of education. Even though we usually get great feedback about Tunisian engineers working abroad and even in big companies, I personally consider those achievements due to their personal efforts and search for excellence.
During the event, the representative of the ministry of higher education, technology and communication made it clear that Tunisia needs more entrepreneurs than ever before. But does the current curriculum encourage the entrepreneurship culture? Well as a Tunisian student, I didn’t notice such efforts. Self employment culture needs to be empowered during the university courses by enhancing the interactive courses, boosting students’ integration in the work reality, supporting clubs that provide soft skills training…
In the upcoming post, I’ll focus on the unemployment issue in Tunisia and analyze its reasons.