News Matinga Ragatz with President Barack Obama Since the daughter of the famous writer Trinidad Morgades was named "Teacher of the Year" in Michigan (USA), her life has taken an important turn. Today, Matinga travels to schools in the United States to give talks and lectures on education. She has participated in important national events and television programs, and has even had an unforgettable encounter with the U.S. President, Barack Obama.

29/09/2011

"Like mother like daughter" or "a chip off the old block", either of these two popular sayings could be perfect for Matinga Ragatz, daughter of the famous writer and professor Trinidad Morgades, who was the first woman from Equatorial Guinea who obtained a university degree.

Without doubt, Matinga has inherited that vocation and talent for education. After being named best teacher of the U.S. State of Michigan, the Equatorial Guinean is giving talks at the national level in many cities in the United States, and participating in big events and even on television. Within this important national "tour", Matinga has also had the opportunity to meet face to face with none other than President Obama, whom we see in the picture on the cover.

www.guineaecuatorial.com has been in contact with the brilliant young teacher who conveys, from the beginning, her enthusiasm for her current activities:"Following the award, they granted me a sabbatical, and now I work giving talks for schools and designing school systems and innovative models for schools. I spent part of the summer in the International Space Center in Huntsville, where I trained and got my degree as a NASA Certified Educator. I've been at Princeton University in New Jersey, giving talks and taking courses, and also in New York, to sign a documentary called "Why I Teach", I have also participated in the Education Nation television program that will be on NBC."

-What are the talks about that you are giving and what audience are they for?

-I give talks about the school models that I created, mainly using emerging technologies. My audience includes officials in the departments of education. As part of the National State Teachers of the Year, I also have national obligations: giving talks about the direction of education in the USA and school development in the twentieth century. The main focus of my educational models starts from the economic development through education.

-Where were you born and where did your study?

-I was born in Madrid, but I consider myself a world citizen because I am very proud of my Equatorial Guinean origin and my American citizenship. I carry the three continents with me in my heart! I started studying in Equatorial Guinea and continued in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Morocco, Spain and Germany. I went to America to attend college after graduating from the Black Forest International Academy in Germany.

-How was the process for you to be chosen teacher of the year? What did you have to do to earn this title?

-First, you have to be nominated by someone. In my case, it was a colleague, a professor of Japanese; in the last six years I have traveled to Japan, China and South Korea and I have often taken my students along. On these trips I worked with this teacher who ended up nominating me to the Department of Education.

Once I was nominated, I received a letter from the Department of Education of the State of Michigan, inviting me to participate in the state competition. Being nominated is an honor, but I entered the competition without knowing how hard it was going to be. I had to write a 30-page document about my teaching experience, teaching practices, my resumé... In addition, the department interviewed students, parents, etc. First I won the local competition, then regional and finally traveled to the capital of Michigan to meet with the Education Minister and his cabinet... And that's how I won.

-How was themeeting with Obama?

-The meeting with the President of the United States took place in the famous Oval Office. The truth is it was a really amazing moment: talking about the coincidence of our international "backgrounds" and how we've developed very similar characteristics and philosophies about this. I spent almost the entire day at the White House and ended at the residence of Vice President Joe Biden. His wife, Jill Biden, also teaches at Georgetown University and is the first Second Lady of the nation who continues to work at her job. He invited us to a good meal and had a great talk with colleagues about education in the United States.

-And your parents? What did they say when they learned that you had been named teacher of the year?

-They are super proud and I've told them many times that it was all thanks to them. My last names, Ebuka and Morgades, are ancestral names of people who shook the world in their time, and mean a lot to my brothers and me. Out of respect and honor to the Ebuka and Morgades, who strove to give us these opportunities, we have no choice but to always go forward and up.

-Would you like to return to Equatorial Guinea? Would you like to do some education project there?

-It is a subject that makes my heart ache, going back to Guinea is the dream of Guineans all over the world... The people, music, food, culture, the sea... all this is in your blood and you feel it even thousands of miles away. My family is in Equatorial Guinea and I hope to return to serve my country... In fact, I had prepared a plan to create a very good English program. But the plan has been stopped for three years in a Ministry and I have not been able to take up this project again, even with the help of President or First Lady, who offered to sponsor my English program.

Interview: Nuria Blasco.

Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office.