By: Fatou Pouye
My name is Fatou Pouye. I'm 23 years old from Senegal, West Africa. Growing up in Senegal, I always lived with my family. I have six siblings, two sisters and four brothers. Basketball is a game I loved since childhood. I was part of a program called Seed project which is a program that helps young people to succeed in their lives by using basketball as a vector of development. I spent four years in the program and my last year the seed project gave me the opportunity to come to the United States to get my education and play basketball in college.
When I first got in the US, I was very scared and nervous because I couldn’t even speak good English. The lifestyle, the environment, the culture, the food, everything was different. But thank God I had a host family and a team that was very welcoming and loving. They helped me a lot to make my transitions much better. They also made me feel like I was part of a family and it really helped me not to be homesick. Even though it was very challenging I was very excited for the opportunities being in America would give me. From there I was recruited to South Georgia Technical College, a 2-year college in the state of Georgia.
Playing in college has always been my dream and when I get the chance to experience it has been awesome. Playing in college also has been a blessing. Now, I attending Western Kentucky University on athletic scholarship as well. I’m so thankful for having my academics paid for, being around people who I consider family. It also gave me the opportunities to learn and grow my game.
My experience playing basketball in America helps my family and I in many ways. One way is that I am becoming more mature and responsible to be on my own in life. My family back home in Africa don’t have to worry much about me handling my business academically and athletically. Living in America I have learned to stand up for myself and face my fears. Constantly being alone her, not having family around helped me realize that I can accomplish goals on my own.
It wasn’t easy leaving my family behind, but I had to do what I have to do to make them proud even though there are lots of difficulties and challenges. It won’t be easy as an international student athlete but find what motivates you. You will never lose sight of your goals. My plans are to play professional basketball. Become an agent so I can promote kids back home who have the talent, but not the opportunity to be seen playing at a high level. I believe my experience will be beneficial to the players now who are looking to pursue their dream of playing basketball here in America.