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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Panther Profile: Moussa Barry

Moussa Barry is a Fulbright Scholar who hails from Burkina Faso, West Africa.

With his home in Burkina Faso, West Africa, international student Moussa Barry packed up his belongings and made the almost 24 hour long journey to UNI’s campus this summer. A Fulbright Scholar, Barry is receiving his graduate degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and is a Graduate Assistant for the Department of Language and Literatures. 

While he was nervous about flying to a country halfway across the world, he has found that the people at UNI have helped ease his transition.

“When I came to UNI people were really welcoming,” Barry said. “Someone drove me from the Cedar Rapids airport to UNI, and then they helped me check in my house, settle in, then guided me to get food and showed me around the campus. People were really helpful in my first days here which really surprised me a lot in a positive way.”

Barry is hoping to teach, get accepted into a PhD program or do translations after receiving his graduate degree at UNI. Barry speaks seven languages, including English, French and five local languages from Burkina Faso: Fulani, Dyula, Mooré, Bobo and Dafi. He also noted he can read and write in German and knows some Spanish, but he does not “count” these languages as ones he can speak since he is not completely fluent. 

The biggest difference Barry has noticed between his home country and the United States is the educational infrastructure provided at universities. 

“The universities here are way bigger than the universities back home,” Barry said. “UNI is not that big compared to some universities here in the US, but as for my experience back home I consider UNI a big campus because we don’t have such big campuses at home.”

He has enjoyed studying at Rod Library and utilizing online materials which were not available in Burkina Faso. 

While Barry has began to settle into life at UNI, he misses his wife who he married in January. 

We are keeping in touch, and I call her everyday over video or voice calls when I am available,” Barry said.

In regards to adjusting to American culture, he admits the food has been difficult to get used to. Barry is eating at Piazza and Rialto, UNI’s two on campus dining halls. 

“Food has been my biggest challenge since I came here,” He said. “I am used to eating very spicy food, and here it is just tasteless. You just boil things and you eat it? I feel like there is no spice added.”

Although eating American food is not something he has gotten used to quite yet, he does like the Spanish rice offered by the dining centers as it reminds him of food from his home country.  

Barry hopes to share his culture with the UNI community during his time here, and is looking forward to learning more about American culture while educating people about his country. 

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