As a child, I had big dreams, and I'd tell anyone who would listen — family, friends, teachers, whoever. I had never imagined that my ambitions would one day take me halfway across the world, from Zimbabwe to Duluth, Minn., and the The College of St. Scholastica.
In 2013, my final year in high school, I was among 33 Zimbabwean students chosen to participate in the United States Student Achievers Program (USAP). This program was founded in 1999 to produce highly skilled and liberally-educated leaders for tomorrow's Zimbabwe. It has since spread to 14 other countries.
With the help of USAP, I walked through the taxing process of qualification and application for American education — SATs, college applications, decisions, visa applications and more. Within the space of a few months, I found myself, and my family, at the Harare International Airport on the way to Duluth. I remember feeling overwhelmed, at the same time filled with exhilaration and trepidation. It was hard bidding farewell to all those I had grown up with or known in all the twenty years I had been around on earth. This was the start of a new chapter.
After traveling for more than 24 hours, I finally arrived at CSS. All the images I had Googled materialized in front of me. And while the journey left me weary and without any real sense of the future, my feelings dissipated when two international students from the Office of International Programs were waiting to welcome me. It was a beautiful thing to have them drive me to campus and help me feel at home, not to mention taking me out for a meal after 27 long hours of airplane food.
My host family is another great example of "Minnesota nice," as well. Their daughter — a diplomat serving in Zimbabwe — actually sparked my initial interest in Minnesota (without divulging much about the contrast in climate). I am thankful for the Zimbabwean community at CSS and in Duluth for their unwavering support throughout my first year. Honestly, there are several individuals who have made my transition much easier; hospitality and community are indeed part of the St. Scholastica DNA.
I'm studying math and computer science, but I strive for a multidisciplinary experience; I've found it easy to connect with a variety of communities. I work with amazing people at the IT Help Desk, Marketing and Campus Ministry. I also contribute as an author to the Scholastica Students blog. I participate in intramural volleyball, and in clubs such as United for Africa, Math Club and Computer Club. I am also part of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Bro-Time groups on campus.
It is impossible to talk about CSS without mentioning the values that make it not only an academic institution but a living institution as well. The welcoming community at CSS makes my journey more enjoyable and my life more hopeful. And because of that, I do not hesitate to call CSS my home away from home. I am now ever ready to commit pen to paper, and write the next chapter of my life.