Juliette - Ajeneza





Kigali, Rwanda

Let It Flow, You are in the Right Place!

There is something about college that I was never told before I arrived on campus: that regardless of how much you might learn about the school or college life, the experience remains uniquely yours! It is all about how you make it. Before I came to Notre Dame, I spent an entire year in a college preparatory program, Bridge2Rwanda, where I learnt how to get the most out of my college experience. As a first-generation student raised up from rural Rwanda, I didn’t know what to expect attending one of the top colleges in the United States. Thus, I did all I could to make sure I was informed enough before I reached campus. I had planned every part of it and was motivated to make my story a success; after all, everyone expected me to pave the way for the next generation. The first week seemed like a dream come true as I had talked to enough people, to whom we were already sharing memories of high school despite being from a totally different background. All classes were going well, and I had already learnt about a lot of opportunities that I wanted to do out of schoolwork. Hence, I was convinced that it was easy to have the kind of experiences I longed for.

However, it was as soon as the third week that things turned around; midterms grades weren’t any close to what I expected, and the workload became so intense that I could barely stand for a two-minute conversation with a friend or participate in any extracurriculars. I was especially haunted by the fear of having to lose things that I would never have again: the chance to do an exam I failed or to talk to friends that I had left for weeks. Most of all, for the very first time in my life, I became aware of the difficulties that set me apart, particularly the fact that none in my family could relate to my experience. I was all alone and had to figure out ways.

Here is where Notre Dame makes a difference! The Morea Class allowed me to reflect on important questions like how to build a life well lived, or whether it is better for me to live for a resume than for virtue. Although this might sound simple, all the insecurities and pressure that I faced during my first weeks were because I wanted to create a perfect resume and set an example. In other words, I didn't have time to simply live, or to even enjoy the company of my friends. The beauty of attending a Christian community like ND, is that you get to live with people who enrich your virtuous life, people who inspire you to be better not only in academics, but in virtue, as a whole person. Until today, I realize that my best moments have always been the time I stepped back to volunteer during Mass, join my dorm for social justice events, or take a walk with my friends across the lakes on campus. None of these will be on my resume or is part of what I was told to do, yet, they have become a central part of my life and have reformed my values.