Student-Success-Daouda-Tambouda

Hear my story of how I succeeded at Respect Academy:

My Steps To Success:

  • Decided for myself to change my life
  • Enrolled at Respect Academy
  • Worked hard
  • Dream Big

My Story:

In this Respect Academy podcast, we have a guest who was born in Africa, Daouda Tambouda.

Daouda has been through some rough times that could literally break the best of us, yet he has still managed to pull through, get accepted into college, and keep smiling, all while staying humble about his challenging upbringing.

He’s here today to share his story that could literally be turned into a true life Hollywood hit.

Give his story a listen and/or read, and see through the eyes of a refugee from Congo to Mali.


David:

Alright, today we have Daouda on the other line. He just graduated from Respect Academy. And has just recently been accepted to Denver Metro for aviation and neuro…

Was it neuroscience Daouda?

Daouda:

Yes

David:

Yes, yes. Yeah I’m excited to have you here interviewing because I’ve heard you have a pretty incredible story. You’re originally from Africa and you moved out here in 2008.

So you’ve been living in America for a little while now. And, you’ve had some success with going to school at Respect Academy.

Can you tell the listeners a little bit more about your story??

What was your life like when you were younger back in Africa? What was it like when you moved out here? Can you tell us a little bit more about your story and who you really are?

Daouda:

Well, when I was like born, like I already… my mom has 10 kids total. So I’m the last kid. So when I was born, she already had 9 kids. And like�

David:

Oh wow� (laughing)…That’s a lot of siblings.

Daouda:

I was originally from Congo. And at that time, Congo wasn’t a pretty good country economically… and plus… the country had the craziest little terrorist groups at that time, and the country was just going pretty bad in General. So you know, we struggled a lot, and often when I was a kid, our country, like soldiers they were just coming into our house. They were allowed to walk into anybody’s house and take what they saw fit. And we used to live closer to an army camp. So that kinda happened to us a lot. And then like, so� my dad passed away when I was 4.

David:

And how did that happen? How did that happen to your father.

Daouda:

So, um� you know I wasn’t grown up enough to know what happened. What had happened at the time was, we were in the house. And then, some rebels came into our house and then he (my dad) tried to protect us. And basically� they, I don’t know what happened to him, but my mom said� she heard a shot and they just took him away. He was never found again after that.

David:

Wow…

Daouda:

And then umm� you know that’s when my mom�. she stayed with 10 kids� and then at that time I was 4. She was struggling to feed us and stuff� And then that’s when she went to a refugee camp in Congo. We were staying in the refugee camp, and my father’s brother� he was actually, he was actually kinda wealthy. But him and my dad didn’t get along. So, he really didn’t care about us till my dad was gone. And then that’s when he was like, “Alright, this country’s bad, and I’m gonna send you guys to Mali.” Because my dad had family in Mali that was gonna watch after us.

David:

Yes…

Daouda:

So that’s when he personally paid for all of our plane tickets, and sent us to Mali. And that’s how I ended up in Mali. And then, I lived in Mali for 12 years. And then in Mali, we were still struggling in Mali because my dad side of the family� they really didn’t like us. Because my dad had 3 wives. You know in Africa, some people could have like 6 wives… And yeah, my dad had 3 wives. And 2 of the wives that my dad had were already living in Mali when we got there. So�.

David:

And where is Mali, for people who don’t know where that is?

Daouda:

Mali is in West Africa.

David:

Gotcha!

Daouda:

Mali is in West Africa, yes.

So yeah, he had 2 wives living over there. So when we moved in, they already didn’t like us. So it was a lot of drama, and a lot of stuff like that. And then after a couple of weeks of living with them, my mom decided that she couldn’t stay there because it was a lot of drama and stuff like that. And then, she took all of us out. And then we went to another refugee camp in Moli. And we we’re living over there for almost 2 years� in the refugee camp in Moli.

The Refugee camps we’re pretty hard too because, just like people struggle to get food, clean water, and a lot of the stuff like that. And then yeah, that’s when basically, my mom came, she went to a� I’m not sure what the office is called, but she went to an immigrations in there. And then she told them, she told them what had had happen. And then, she told them how she didn’t want to see us not educated, and not go to school. I actually never went to school till I went to the US. So� she told them she didn’t want to see us uneducated. And that when they told her that they were gonna arrange for us to come to the United States, but it was gonna take a long time�

I actually never went to school till I went to the US.”

David:

Did all your siblings make it out here?? Are all of your siblings out in the US now or are some back in Africa???…

Daouda:

Actually, all of my siblings didn’t make it out over here. My mom has 10 kids, and my 2 older brothers, I have 2 older brothers. And my 2 older brothers is sad, because I never seen 1 of them� in real life.

David:

Oh wow�

Daouda:

I only seen them 2 until I got here. And then, I actually have a sister back in Congo. But my 2 brothers,… my one brother is in Cogo with my sister, and then one brother stayed in Moli.

David:

So you do this trip to America, right? You had a totally, I mean, for an average American, you’ve had a very interesting lifestyle. A lot of people don’t have to experience some of the things that you had to experience. You know, going through refugee camps, having people intrude into your house at anytime….

Those are some very big cultural differences than what we experience.

But here you go to America, you start going to school, you start getting educated.

What was the first school that you went to here?

Daouda:

When I got here???…

David:
Yes�

Daouda:

I went to a middle school,… I started in middle school,… and,… My first day of school� as you can imagine, I never been to school. This was my first time ever being in any type of classroom. Like, I was kinda freakin’ out.

David:

(laughing)…

Daouda:

I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t speak any English at all. Not even “Hi”…

not even “Hi”… And people were talking to me, and I’m just staring at them. And they’re looking at me all weird and, I wish I could say something!

(laughs)

David:

Yeah, that must be really difficult. Yeah I think it’s scary enough� just to go to middle school, or just to go to high school when you’re from here. Let alone when you’re from across the world. And you don’t even speak the language.

Daouda:

Exactly. When I first moved here, I don’t know how, but I was good at making friends. That’s one thing I was good at. Because the first neighborhood that I moved in, even though I didn’t speak any English. I was friends with almost anybody. We were playing basketball. Even though I never even play basketball back in Africa. I didn’t even know what basketball even was, but they were teaching me… I couldn’t understand what they were even saying, but I could see what they were trying to tell me to do.

David:

Yes, there’s a lot to learn when you came in.

Daouda:
So it was definitely pretty hard for me to communicate. But, after I started speaking a little English, that’s when things started working out and stuff like that. And then when I came here too� so many English class� even in middle school, it was so hard to moving forward, because I didn’t take all the classes I needed to go to high school. And then, when I went to high school, it was so hard to move forward too� because I didn’t take the classes I needed to graduate, because I had so many English classes� oh my gosh.

I had 3 English classes a day…

David:

Wow, yeah, you had to just catch up with everyone. So when did you hear about,…

How did you hear about Respect Academy, and when did you switch over?

Daouda:

When I went to middle school, they sent me to South, but then I had teachers give me so many English classes, I really started falling behind in school. And then when a school advisor� that’s when� she told me that I should transfer to another� to Respect Acadmey, and that’s what really helped me� because South is a public school. There’s� there’s so many kids over here. Like, anybody that tells you like the teacher has time to work with you, one for like three hours straight would be lying to you. But at Respect Academy, there’s not enough people, and the teachers would take the time, take all the time they need to work with you 1 on 1 to make sure you understand�

“But at Respect Academy, there’s not enough people, and the teachers would take the time, take all the time they need to work with you 1 on 1 to make sure you understand�”

David:

Wow, so what do you feel like is different in your life since you went to Respect Academy?? Before you started going to the school, and now after???

Daouda:

Definitely umm� the struggle� definitely� and… I really didn’t think I had a future till I graduated. I mean, I knew I was here, and this is the country where like everything is possible, the country of opportunity, but like,… I really didn’t believe that til I graduated and I got acceptance there. I never thought I was gonna go to college. But, when I got the letter,… I was so� I was so excited. I saw the future opening up now.

“I never thought I was gonna go to college.”

David:

Wow� that’s awesome. So now you’re a believer, you’ve seen this land of opportunity and you not only believe it, you’ve experienced it.

Daouda:
Yeah definitely� if I could come from Africa where you see, you see the stuff that’s unreal! You can tell, some people will think you’re crazy. Because they really haven’t been there. And if you tell some people watching this, they’re gonna be like, “sure you’re crazy.” And then, it’s so hard for people to believe the stories you tell people, the stuff you’ve been through, because, you know if they’re gonna believe you or not. And just, come and actually go to school and go to college. And people speak on your graduation. That’s definitely a big step up� you know what I mean?

David:

That’s a huge, I have to commend you for that Daouda. Just to go from your background where,… I could see you going out, talking to other kids, or talking to other grown ups, or anyone really who have never really hear these type of stories, and here you come in� it’s almost like a fairytale. So I can see how you go in and just feel different, or you feel� people can’t relate to you. Now that you told your story though, do you feel like you are more able to resonate, or are more people starting to understand it a little bit more and believe you?

Daoud:

Yeah definitely, you could feel the changes� People don’t believe you till you open up to them� you know!? You have to express what you’ve been through. Tell them. Some people be like, “I hate this country [America].” And� that really hurts me a lot! That really hurts me a lot when people say that� it’s because, I know where I came from, and I know they wouldn’t want to live there.

“You should be glad to be living here, because you really haven’t been to some parts of the world, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to be living there.”

David:

When someone says that to you [I hate this country], you probably have a smirk on your face.


I think more people need to hear your story. I think, just more people in this world, especially in this country, could learn a thing or two when they hear about your success, and what you’ve done in your life, and what you’re doing now.

Daouda:
Definitely, I’m okay� with talking to people about it, but it’s just like,… it’s so hard for me to talk, because… That’s one thing I struggled with when I came here too. When I went to school, since I didn’t speak English,… And then when I started speaking English, I had a funny accent. So you know, a lot of kids would laugh at me for that, they were making fun of me for that. So, I tried to be the quiet kid till I got to Respect Academy.

David:

Wow… No, I gotta say, I mean, just talking to you, interviewing you right now, asking you these questions, and even when we talked before, when I called you yesterday� I mean, I would have never even been able to tell English isn’t your native language. I mean, you sound very natural. And you do a great job storytelling. You’re really painting the picture. I’m able to understand, and capture what you’ve been through. You’re doing a really good job, I gotta commend you for it.

Daouda:

Thank you. But, yeah, I mean I’m okay. I definitely think a lot of people could learn from what I’ve been through. They’re gonna be glad to have what they have. Because, trust me, it might not be there for some people� some people are struggling. Like everyday, I don’t tell [people how I’m feeling]. For example, I just recently got a job Chipotle, right?? But, I don’t express every time people throw away food… It like physically, emotionally hurts me, because, I know some people could definitely use it… Do you know what I mean? There are some things people don’t pay attention to that really catches my attention. Even if I see somebody drinking a Pepsi, and throws it out in the street. It really takes me back to where I came from� automatically. I would be so glad to have it� if I was� if I was where I was a couple of years ago.

David:

Wow� Yes, there’s this totally different world here, where we come from the land of abundance. Where we have too much of things, and you come from a world of scarcity� where, even half a bottle of Pepsi or Coca Cola would be meaningful to you…

That says something.

Daouda:

Yea. And a lot of people, I mean… Africa isn’t all that bad. It’s a big country. It’s not a country to struggle in. Definitely not.

David:

I totally agree with you Daouda, so you’ve changed as a person. You know, you can speak English, you’re really thriving, you just got accepted into a school, I mean some people that have been given all the opportunities could never get accepted into aviation, or some of these more technical skills. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. So now you can tell your story. You speak English very fluently.

With all these changes in your life, what are you looking forward to, in the next 5, 10 years? What do you want to change in this world? And what do you want to accomplish?

Daouda:
What do I want to change in this world?? I definitely want to change how people live� in other countries. And then I definitely, if I could, I definitely want to tell people to appreciate what they have. Because, it is not there for some people. It doesn’t matter you’re going through, because somebody’s already going through worse. Even though I was going through all that, I wasn’t mad because I know somebody was going through worse! Actually, I had a friend in my country that was going through way worse… Like, he had both of his parents killed… his entire family killed. It was just him and his sister left. And his sister was 13. And, his sister was taking care of him. It’s definitely, always appreciate what they have, but in the next 5 years,… I want people to hear my story. But I also want to make my family proud. So I definitely, I definitely have goals to pilot… To make that happen…

“It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, because somebody’s already going through worse.”

David:

That’s awesome, and that’s some wise words. You know, there’s always someone with another problem. There’s someone else going through a different struggle, or even a worse struggle. So that’s some wise words coming from you.

I have one more question for you, if someone were to really be struggling in life, maybe they felt like they’ve lived a very different life, they were very quiet, they were struggling, they were scared,… Think about back when you were at that stage when you first went into middle school, you had no idea what was going on�

What could you tell that person? What’s the biggest advice you would tell that person� to keep going and change??

Daouda:

Definitely don’t give up, keep your head up, and smile no matter what.

Trust me, a smile, could change a lot of stuff. If you keep you’re head up, and not let people know, not let people know, trying to hide the pain you’re going through� I mean, don’t forget about it, but… It’s good to think about it. Just try to hide it when you’re around others so� that way� because, you know� in your mind� because let’s say, let’s say that you tell somebody, “Oh I’m going through this.” And, there’s some very rude people. They’re gonna tell you, “Yeah I’m sorry. I mean, you’re my friend, but I don’t think you could do that.” And, some people, could really pay attention to that, and give up on their dreams, give up on their goals. And it’s, just� keep it to yourself. And shoot for it. Don’t stop, don’t give up. No matter how hard it gets. No matter how much you’re struggling.

Always,… always keep going…

David:

Wow. I love it, those are some really powerful words.

Well, I gotta thank you for taking the time to share your story, being vulnerable. You know, I can understand, it’s hard for some people to really share what they’ve been through in their experiences. I think your story, and what you’ve been through, and everything you’ve accomplished� is gonna touch some peoples lives out there. People that are listening. People that hear your story. I think you will be able to slowly change the way people look at the world. And I can’t thank you enough for taking your time and sharing it.

Daouda:

Well thank you too� for actually wanting to hear my story.

David:

(Laughing). Of course! It’s a really good story. So, yeah man, I greatly appreciate it.

Daoud:

Alright�

well�

yeah�

Thank You!…