What is LIME?
The Lafayette Initiative for Malagasy Education (LIME) is a peer-to-peer mentoring program between Lafayette College students and high school students from Madagascar to prepare the latter for the process of applying to colleges in the United States. Because the intent of the program is to have as broad an impact as is possible, the Lafayette students mentor the Malagasy students to help them apply to any appropriate college in the US that provides financial aid for international students, not just to Lafayette.
Here is a 2013 segment on LIME from the PBS39 Tempo program (just the first couple of minutes of this show):
Who are the Lafayette student mentors?
A team of 12 Lafayette students is chosen each year. Beginning in the Fall semester, they formally commit to mentoring over a 1.5 year period which includes a three week trip to Madagascar in January. The informal commitment, however, is for a lifetime!
The team is made up of men and women from different academic disciplines, different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and different parts of the US and the world. LIME team members are nominated by faculty members, and include athletes, musicians, actors, poets, writers, dancers, and computer scientists among many other areas of study. The one thing they all have in common is a desire to work together as a team to help young Malagasys to help themselves through education.
Who are the Malagasy students?
The Malagasy students in the LIME program are promising 3rd– and 4th-year students at Lycée Andohalo (pronounced “ahn-dew-AHH-lew”), a public high school in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. These are economically disadvantaged students who spend at least two years in the LIME program before applying to college.
How did the program start?
The intiative for the LIME program originally came from the recognition that very few Malagasys study in the US (e.g. 75 undergraduates in 2011/12) compared to those from other Francophone African countries (e.g. 904 undergraduates from Cameroon in 2011/12; source is Open Doors Data).
LIME was designed by a team of ten Lafayette students who traveled to Madagascar in January 2010 to meet with Malagasy high school students and teachers, US Embassy officials, and Peace Corps volunteers working in the education sector. This team discovered bright young Malagasy students for whom opportunity beckoned if they could pursue higher education in the US.
They realized that, although the Malagasy high school students received a sound education, they were disadvantaged in terms of preparation for applying to colleges in the US. Thus, the 2010 LIME team proposed a program in which future Lafayette students visit Madagascar each January to work with the Malagasy students at Lycee Andohalo to coach them on taking standardized tests, writing essays, filling out the Common Application, applying for financial aid, choosing appropriate schools, and speaking English.
How successful is the program? Are any Malagasy students in college in the US?
The LIME program is in its tenth year since the launch in January 2011, and each year a handful students apply to colleges. These students have all passed their Baccalaureat exams and look very promising. So far, eight Lycee Andohalo students have come to the United States to study at Lafayette College with full financial aid packages. Moreover, they have been doing well academically and socially. Indeed, the pioneering student graduated in May 2016 and earned her Master of Development Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. The advisor of this first Malagasy student asked the LIME team to “Bring more like her.” Other graduates are in graduate school or are back in Madagascar working for NGOs.
What are the financial challenges for the Malagasy students?
Even for Malagasy students who receive full scholarships to cover tuition, room and board, there are substantial expenses that make it difficult to make the transition to college in the US. These expenses include standardized tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and SAT ($250), visa fees ($250), air fare to the United States ($2,500), and initial health insurance ($2,500). This extra $5,500 is insurmountable for each of the talented but economically disadvantaged Malagasy students.
What does a day in the LIME trip look like?
- Breakfast at Hotel Ibis
- Bus ride to school with the man, the myth, the legend (Monsieur Nini)
- 6 hours of mentoring per day
- 3 hours per session
- 2 sessions (older and younger)
- Morning and afternoon sessions
- Lunch with team in between sessions
- ~2:1 student to mentor ratio
- More personal mentoring rather than lecturing
- Intermittent ice breaker activities
- Simon Says, Limbo, Dancing, Ninja, etc.
- Bus ride back to Hotel Ibis
- Dinner with the team
- Team meeting
- Discussion of what went well, what could improve
- Organize the next day’s lesson plan