Amadou Toure bleeds gold and blue after experience at WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Nearly four years ago, Amadou Toure can remember standing amongst nearly 60,000 gold-clad West Virginia University fans at his first ever football game.
The Mali native who moved to France before coming to the U.S. to study had never experienced American football culture.
In one day, he found out about tailgating and the Mountaineers’ nationally renowned fan base and game day atmosphere.
“I didn’t really know much about tailgating or football for that matter. My friends had to explain all the rules to me,” he said. “After the first football game, I called my mom and said ‘this is where I belong.’”
When he came to the U.S. for college, he had already been to the country before when growing up, but it had been more than five years since he had been back. This time, he’d be here for four years and will graduate with a degree in business management.
Toure, who was born in Mali and moved to France, started his collegiate career at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York before transferring to WVU in December 2008.
When he came to WVU, though, he still had trouble speaking English despite taking some intensive-English courses. To learn the language better, however, he took a different route this time. He joined as many clubs that interested him at WVU.
“I thought, in order for me to be able to communicate very well, I’d have to go out of my comfort zone and talk to people, get involved in clubs. That way I could get to meet more students around the US, practice and learn about the culture and share mine,” he said. “I was a pretty shy kid, but coming here was me getting out there.”
Toure has made the most of his time on campus, though. He participated in many 4-H programs throughout the state, was a resident assistant, a member of the African Student Association and a governor in the Student Government Association.
Toure has seen the campus culture at WVU change dramatically over his four years in Morgantown. He can remember thinking in his first few days that there wasn’t much diversity around, but that has changed and the University is better for it, he says.
“Diversity is something that I always want to see wherever I go,” he said. “I want to be as diverse as possible.”
Despite the growing diversity, “throughout the time on campus, you can’t even tell who is black or white or Indian, because everyone shares the same thing in that they’re a Mountaineer. We may be from a different culture or background, but we have the same goal of getting a degree and have fun while doing it,” he said.
When Toure walks on that stage and receives his certificate of graduation, he knows he has multiple opportunities for a career. He doesn’t know where he will land just yet, but he knows he might never get back to Morgantown again.
He’ll miss the football games and the friends he’s made most, Toure said. He’ll even miss sitting in the Mountainlair on the average day and seeing those he knows and meeting those he didn’t. Overall, he’ll miss the experience he found.
“I was born in Mali and then I grew up in Paris, so this has truly been a third home for me ? It’s sad because I’m graduating and leaving, and may never get a chance to come back here. You never know,” he said. “You never know what your future is going to be like. I’m really anxious to see what the next five years are going to be like.”