Challenging The Way We Think

Year in School: Senior
Major: Elementary Education
Hometown: Plano, IL

The amount of people you run into in the field of education is unbelievable. You meet people from all different backgrounds. These people have different cultures, religions, socio-economic statuses, values and belief systems. However, somehow, we are all together under the same circumstances and trying to accomplish the same goals. We all have one thing in common – education. Education is the key to success in our country as well as many other countries. People desire education and must have an education in order to be “successful.”


During my first professional semester in NIU’s Elementary Education program, I worked with many colleagues that came from different situations and backgrounds. I met a man, one of my professors, this semester. This challenged many of my beliefs about the world simply because he was from a different place. His values were very different than mine. He is from Nairobi Kenya. He came here to teach and to further his education.

Upon taking his class, I was always annoyed because he was not always the most punctual individual. Classes would start later than the 9:00 starting time. He was laid back about assignments and would extend due dates. I was confused about why he would do these things. Especially when I value deadlines and time limits, hard work and being busy.

However, upon getting to know him, I realized that he was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. Later, I talked to him about his culture, beliefs and family. I learned so much about his culture that made me sometimes question why I valued some of the things I did. He was a man that valued relationships and attributes of people. In Kenya, there were no deadlines, no busy work and there especially weren’t 7 people sitting in a room all on their phones. He told me that he thought Americans were disconnected from relationships and quite frankly; I realized he’s exactly right.

We say “hello” to each other but do we mean it? How often do we say things and mean it? How often do we actually care about other people more than ourselves? In the small amount of time I interacted with this man, he changed my views on life. I wanted to take more time to live and less time to just fly through everything. Yes, it’s important to work hard. But while working hard we need to value those around us. We need to step back and take the time to actually listen to each other. These are truly the things that are important.

Dezirae Ninow

Written by Dezirae Ninow

I looked into several different colleges; however, upon visiting NIU I realized that this campus was the one for me. Northern's campus is full of life, energy, and bustling activity. The faculty, staff, and students I met on my initial visit to Northern were all kind and extremely helpful. As a first generation college student, Northern offered me with helpful insights on how to be successful during my undergraduate career. NIU also holds high esteem in my field of study – education. Not only does NIU offer a great academic program, they foster an environment of diversity. NIU values their diverse population of students and provides opportunities for students to interact and work together through a variety of clubs and activities. I knew that as a student of NIU, I would have many opportunities to grow as an individual, a leader, and an educator.