I bet there are teachers working crummy jobs for no pay in some American public school system for 20 years that deserve something like this a thousand times more than me, but the trick is that I am working with the best kids, the absolute best kids. Rwandan kids, at least these ones, are not 'too cool for school'. They don't have sarcastic senses of humor or a need to distance themselves from authority to be cool. (Is every high school teacher reading this booking a one way plane ticket right now?)
So here at ASYV, we are running a little competition for the seniors. We are inviting about 20 students to stay for a week after finals and the National Exam for 'Application Boot Camp'. A lot of our kids won't have access to computers or native English speakers after they leave ASYV so the more work they can do applying for scholarships before they leave, the better. There are 122 seniors, and they'd all like to stay, but we can't help everyone intensely, so we are going to select about 20 kids to work on application essays and collecting transcripts and letters of recommendations and whatnot. The competition for the selection process is fierce. They all want to stay and do this.
The application for ABC is one essay from the common application (... actually last year's common application but that is a long story) and one essay question from the Mastercard Scholars program. The thinking here being whoever is selected has a good start on the applications we want to work on at the camp. The first essay you can choose from topics like a fictional character that impacted you, a national issue important to you or a person that influenced you.
Immaculee asked me if I would help her correct the English in her essay. I said yes and we made an appointment. I like Immaculee, and she's a great student, but she's a quiet kid and I don't know her that well. We don't eat together or hang out outside of class. I didn't think I had made that big an impression. Then she gave me her essay and I just started to cry:
I am influenced by an inspiring woman who is always helping young adults to find their destination of the future. Her name is Courtney Kelly. She is an American of 37 years old from New York. She has been an IT business worker for 14 years after her graduation from university. After that, she decided to change her career into other thing she felt that she was more passionate about. This is helping Rwandan teens in Agahozo-Shalom as a volunteer, where I met her teaching English in class preparing for TOEFL. She influenced my life, thus I became a new person.
First and foremost, she influenced me in social life. She used to help people in different domains such as teaching them English, advising them and this taught me to help others. Now I give any kind of help to my classmates and this gave me a good name in my class. Next, in social life I am influenced by her kindness and being flexible. I use to be a hard person; I never joked but through observing how Courtney is humble and how she jokes with people I decided to change my behavior.
Second, I have been influenced in education by her support by teaching English without any reward and knowing that it is a hard issue to handle because English in the village is a problem but she never gives up. This influenced me very much. Right now I can express myself in English and I learned from her to continue what you started. Now I love teaching others. Additionally, I had been influenced to be motivated in studying because I saw her one day very sick but she came to teach us English. This made me to love school now I cannot miss school, even at any circumstance.
Furthermore, I have been influenced in the domain of health. In fact, I was a kind of person who cannot do sport, even running 10 meters was a problem. Now my mind had been influenced by her because she does sport without thinking on other factors like being a woman or making herself tired. Right now I can do sport, even run a long distance. I reduced the fat and my circulatory system is functioning well therefore my I am healthier. Above all, I used to over work and getting tired every time I had head pain because I did not know how to plan for my day. Influenced by how Courtney plans for her day, now I am the best organized student in my class. I do not feel any stress or any more head pain.
All in all, my life has been influenced very much and it is obvious, her kindness, her confidence, her hard work and her flexibility made me special and a changed person, not only I personally, but also many people in the village. I can estimate and say that we take her as the only meat in the sauce.