Speaker advocates for global education


Melissa Puryear

Orubba Amansouri, smiles as she refers to her mother, who has been at her side since pursuing an education.

Christina Benavides, Reporter

Education is the key to solving most of the problems we have today, said Orubba Almansouri, a native of Yemen, at a distinguished speaker’s series, held on Sept. 21 in the Fireside Room at Bakersfield College.

Almansouri spoke about the importance of education for the world today, and how everyone can make an impact, big or small.

Almansouri is known for her desire for education worldwide, and she stands up for her community and everyone’s right to have an education.

Joe Saldivar, host of the event and chair of the Biology Department, mentioned that Community Colleges normally do not have speakers like this, and thanks to the administration, Orubba was able to speak.

Almansouri began her speech at 7:15 p.m. She wanted to remain respectful to her community and made sure to point out that there are different tribes and different sections that people belong to in Yemen who have different traditions. Her story is not a one scenario for the entire country. Almansouri spoke about her experience with education, and the battle she had with her family to receive an education.

“I could have not imagined attending college, simply because I wasn’t allowed to, because my sisters weren’t allowed to, and girls in my family weren’t allowed to” said Almansouri.Almansouri included that access and opportunities for education are not equal across the world, not in Yemen and not in the U.S. She had to fight for her education, despite what her tradition believed. Almansouri mentioned that her father allowed her to push for an education, and she is eternally grateful; however, it could not have happened without her starting conversations. She added that although her family hesitated to allow her to receive an education, they are her biggest supporters today.

“They thought that being educated in America would mean loss of identity, loss of tradition of the moral and cultural values that they worked so hard to engrain in us.” said Almansouri.

She also mentioned her parents thought they would lose the daughter they knew, and did not believe she could be an educated woman.

Almansouri’s passion for education grew while she was in America, and she realized that all people have the same dream to succeed. She added that people reassured her that the message she delivers is not just one of a Muslim woman, but it is a story of thousands of people from various backgrounds that can identify with her story. Almansouri believes the struggles for education and better life opportunities are not limited to one region, but are universal.

Almansouri mentioned there are over 62 million girls around the world who are not getting the education they deserve. This amount would be even more if boys were added. Almansouri added that change does not happen overnight. However, it should happen gradually, building stronger each day. She believes success is being able to positively impact her community and family.

Almansouri is currently finishing her masters in Near Eastern studies at NYU, and has started the national program, The American Association for Yemeni Students and Professionals, with a group of her friends. Almansouri included that the project provides mentorship and workshops for students pursuing higher education, but is still a work in progress. She also mentioned that the program will be working with schools soon.

Almansouri strongly believes in the power of conversation because conversing with each other is beneficial and leaves a long lasting influence. She mentions that people’s relationship with one another is what builds a strong community, and together they can change the world from within. She knows people can be successful on their own; however, she encourages the community to work as one to make a larger impact on the world.