A Zambian-Born Graduate of the Mining University Shares his Experiences of Studying in Russia

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Clement Sitali Nawa, a national of Zambia, completed his education in St. Petersburg Mining University six years ago.

As a child, Clement used to live in Chingola, a city located near Nchanga, the country’s largest and world’s second-largest copper mine. The boy’s elder brother worked at that mine and used to mention the difficulties he was facing or what he would like to learn. Clement also visited the mine several times on guided tours and, finally, got interested in the extractive industry. Though seeing what life mine workers lived, he decided he would rather be an engineer.

“I had a goal. I dug deep into physics and chemistry, I joined a math club, I even entered a local university upon graduation. I became a student at the University of Zambia (UNZA), the largest learning institution in the country. But unfortunately, I was accepted to the School of Education, and I knew it was not what I wanted. My dream was to work in mining, but I could not afford to pay the fee for studying at the School of Mines in UNZA. The only option left for me was to look into international education opportunities”, says Clement.

This is when the Zambian fellow found out about Rossotrudnichestvo, an organization responsible for promoting Russian education services abroad. He decided to participate in an annual contest and compete for a quota enabling free studies in one of the Russian universities.

Both now and then it takes an effort to win the contest. For example, this year 138 study places were granted to applicants from Zambia, whereas in total there were over 1,000 enrollees. Altogether 600 Zambian students are currently studying in Russia.

After passing the competition, Clement found himself in Saint-Petersburg Mining University, and in 2009 he became a student at the Faculty of Mining Engineering.

As Clement notes, “I must admit I received an education of excellent quality. The Mining University gives students exactly those skills and knowledge that are needed on the job market, it teaches them to think critically, prepares for entering the economy. Internships and industrial attachments organized by the University were also beneficial to me. One of them, in fact, took place at Konkola Copper Mines Plc. There I ended up working at the Nchanga Underground Mine, that one I was living near to when I was a child and got me interested in the profession.”

Upon graduation, Clement returned to his home country. He became an engineer in short-term mine planning at Barrick Gold Corporation. However, Mining University’s graduate intends to progress further in his career. Moreover, he is going to compete for a quota granted by Rossotrudnichestvo next year again. Six years ago, he obtained a Specialist’s degree. Now Clement is aiming for Master’s studies — also at the Mining University, but this time preferably with specialization in economics of the mineral resources sector.

“I believe this will help me occupy a senior position in a mineral company or, perhaps, I become a teacher at some university. I really miss St. Petersburg a lot, and it would be great to move back there for a few years to continue education. Russia is like a second home to me, a home where many good friends live. We actually still communicate, for instance, via social media. I have as well lots of great memories back from university days. As such, I used to play football in the university team. The medals that I won throughout that time remind me of those days, ” admits the former student of the Mining University.