June is Immigrant Heritage Month—a celebration of our shared heritage as a nation of immigrants and a time to reflect on the many ways immigrants contribute to our society. In honor of this nationwide effort to celebrate immigration in America, we asked several students to tell us about their experiences growing up in a country far from their homeland. Here is Belinda Busogi’s story.
Belinda Busogi, a College of Natural Sciences junior, is the daughter of two survivors of the Rwandan genocide, in which about 800,000 lost their lives in a majority-Hutu-sponsored violence against Tutsis.
Upon arrival in their new home, her parents made it their mission to create a safe, nurturing environment for their family. We caught up with her to learn more about her East African heritage and the lessons she learned from her courageous family members.
Lost in translation… “My parents experienced a huge language barrier since English is hard to learn quickly. Back when I was a toddler, it was hard to communicate with my own parents for a while. Another challenge that they faced was adapting to the American school system because they grew up in a different schooling environment. Therefore, growing up, I was the guinea pig for attending school in the United States.”
Counting her blessings… “As pictures of refugees fleeing their country flash on television screens all over the world, it is sometimes hard to understand the absolute gravity of the tribulations and hardships these refugees are going through. Growing up, my parents always reminded me to value the freedom and safety we have here in the United States. Sometimes it easy to focus on what we lack in life, rather than appreciate what we are blessed with such as housing and food.”
Stories of survival and courage… “Both of my parents lived a life plagued with genocide where they endured and witnessed some of the most brutal acts known to man. During the genocide there were many life changing stories that occurred. From my dad escaping death, various times, to my grandfather being falsely imprisoned. However, now my father has been in Rwanda for the past year, in hopes of setting up a life for our family to possibly return some day.”
Words of wisdom… “Your challenges are only as a big as you make them!”
Busogi’s activities include: Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Pre-Grad Intern; Spring 2017 IE Kuhn Scholar; Darlins, Delta Epsilon Mu; Orientation Advisor, African Student Organization; Fall 2016 Women Volleyball IM Champion Team; Officer for Black Health Professions; Texas Athletics Nutrition Intern.