Justin recently caught up with Tony, one of Our Moon’s first students at Hillcrest, to hear about his first year at Ashesi University.

When I got to Ashesi I thought I wouldn’t get to interact with many people, the lecturers especially.  I thought it would be very formal, but after a week or so I realized that this was a different cultural environment than what I was used to. In Zambia, you wouldn’t think of calling your teachers by their first names but at Ashesi they prefer it and they are really friendly. That’s a great thing about Ashesi; all the faculty are accessible and approachable. It’s not how I thought it would be when I first arrived, I thought I would keep to myself, but I quickly learnt you don’t have to be alone. My peers encouraged me to engage a few days in and it’s a great collaborative learning environment to be in.

One of the biggest challenges I faced when I first started out were the academics. On one course we were put into groups randomly to work for the whole semester. The amount of work that people put in wasn’t the same, so that was a difficult new challenge to face. Team work is a big part of university life so you have to learn to adapt quickly and move away from the more selfish thinking that plays a big part in secondary school.

The liberal arts system has benefitted me a lot. In the first year we do a lot of different courses like design and entrepreneurship and also leadership which is a good opportunity to meet a lot of people across different disciplines and try new things.  I was doing business and administration initially but as the system let me try different courses and be exposed to more subjects, I think I will change to computer science. There is a lot of coding involved but I prefer that to the reading-based course of business administration. That flexibility has been an important part of my Ashesi experience.

The honour code system is a key part of university life at Ashesi which I think is really positive. When you join the university, you sign a pledge to abide by Ashesi’s honour code which is part of the university’s ethos to educate a new generation of ethical leaders. Intending to build a high-trust community, during an exam the students themselves make sure they don’t talk to each other, leave all books and other aids in an inaccessible place, and must not have access to the internet. If you are caught cheating or one of your peers reports you then you face disciplinary action. Although different from what most people are used to, this system means that you are held responsible for your actions; a vital part of Ashesi’s reputation.

We wish Tony all the best with his second year at Ashesi!

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