Wani Lokulang is a B2R Fellow from South Sudan who received a degree in Film and New Media from New York University Abu Dhabi. As a film director, Wani has written, directed, and edited more than six short films of his own and has gained extensive experience as an assistant director, editor, cinematographer, sound mixer, gaffer, and production assistant for multiple film projects. 

He is the Founder & CEO of Soulmate Media, a South Sudanese media and public relations firm dealing in media consultancy, narrative film & documentary production, advertisement, promotion and publicity, photography, graphic design, web design and printing. He is also the Founder & Executive Director of Impact Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes peaceful co-existence, sustainable and impactful relief, and developmental projects that empower different communities in South Sudan. Read more about Wani’s work and filmography. 

Wani has worked for the Equator Broadcasting Cooperation as an editor and successfully executed projects for Voice of America, United Nations Populations Fund South Sudan (UNFPA South Sudan), United Nations Development Project South Sudan (UNDP South Sudan), Finn Church Aid (Aid), CORDAID, Welthungerhilfe, Nonviolent Peace Force, and many other international and national organizations.

In 2022, Wani produced an educational film titled Temporary? — a short docu-fiction film that weaves the personal experiences of those who are victims of rape into a collective story of surviving rape and finding healing in South Sudan.

The film portrays the mental, emotional, and physical pains that victims of rape feel and how those pains affect them. Further, the film echoes the grieving voices of the victims of GBV and calls for families and society at large to be more supportive of victims of GBV.

The film, which was made with support from UNFPA, has since sparked a conversation about gender-based violence in South Sudan and caught the attention of South Sudan’s National Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, which is working hard to address the issues raised in the film.

I am proud that the film has sparked a conversation about the issue of gender inequality and gender-based violence in the country. My team and I are showcasing the film in learning institutions in the country to amplify the fight against gender-based violence. It is my hope that we will all keep learning from the film and start treating each other with respect and dignity.

Wani Lokulang, B2R Fellow

B2R Fellows, Steven Mucyo (Georgetown University), Christelle Umubyeyi(Yale University) and Diana Munyana(Columbia University) sat down with Managing Director of The BRIDGE Career Services, Happiness Uwase, to discuss their transition from university to career, their experience working at Dalberg, a strategy and policy advisory firm specializing in global development, and what led them to return home to launch their careers in Rwanda. 

“There are things that people tell you in terms of checking boxes like, ‘you should work at these places or you should stay in the US to gain experience,’ but I think owning your own trajectory and knowing that there are possibilities beyond the checked boxes assigned to you helped me realize that there was an opportunity for me to shape my own experience and be open to new possibilities.”  

– Christelle Umubyeyi, B2R Fellow

In May 2020, B2R Scholar, Bienfait Mugenza foundedCongo Dynamique Initiative (CODI),  a non-profit and non-governmental organization committed to empowering youth and women in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

The goal of CODI is to generate a steady flow of accountable leaders, ethical entrepreneurs, and new businesses to increase jobs and wealth and eradicate poverty in the DRC. As an incubator and micro-finance institution, CODI accelerates and systematizes the process of identifying, developing, empowering, and mentoring entrepreneurs in the DRC by

providing them with a range of support, including micro-loans, incubator space, business support services, and networking opportunities. Bienfait will graduate from the University of Rochester this May with a degree in Political Science and plans to return home to work on the growth and sustainability of CODI and identify more societal challenges that may require collective efforts and innovative solutions. 

One Saturday evening, my dad said to me: ‘In the mental realm of being, things are quite simple. You can be part of the problem or be part of the solution. Assuming you are part of the solution, always do your best and never stand aside to watch.’ So, I try every day to be part of the solution.

B2R Fellow, Irene Kwihangana, graduated from Texas Christian University last year and is currently working as a mechanical engineer for CIMERWA, Ltd.a partner of Pretoria Portland Cement-PPCand the leading producer of cement in Rwanda.

As a mechanical engineer, Irene assists in planning, coordinating and solving technical problems in order to improve the reliability of the plant while minimizing costs. He also assists in doing analysis and technical writing the plant’s major equipment. 

From the time I started my freshman year, I knew I wanted to work in Rwanda or somewhere in Africa. I wasn’t going to be a statistic contributing to Africa’s brain drain. For me coming back to work in Africa is a necessary sacrifice; it opens up opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the development of my home country.

I remember looking at a picture that was shared by a friend. The picture depicted old New York and new New York. The picture stuck in my mind and I remember telling myself, “We can do this in Rwanda and in Africa at large.

B2R Scholar and soon-to-be graduate of MIT, Audace Nakeshimana, has combined his passion for Teleradiology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Entrepreneurship through his start-up,  Insightiv, which builds cutting-edge digital systems to tackle healthcare challenges in developing countries.

Given the severe disparity of medical specialists, such as radiologists, in developing countries, Audace developed a proven technology at MIT that uses AI to assist medical specialists in interpreting and diagnosing medical images and significantly improving patient care.

“Medical imaging is the backbone of modern medicine, because it allows healthcare practitioners to diagnose and treat internal diseases in a way that wasn’t possible before,” Audace said. “Unfortunately, there is a severe disparity in access to medical imaging specialists around the world, especially among radiologists whose job is to make interpretations of medical images for diagnosis or to perform interventions. “

The U.S. has approximately 100 radiologists per million of the population. Rwanda has less than 1 radiologist per million. These numbers are almost the same for all developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

The implications of this are severe for patients who have to wait for weeks for diagnosis, leading to severe healthcare outcomes. In addition, radiologists are overworked and sometimes hindered in their ability to diagnose patients properly due to the overwhelming number in need of care.

“The moment I learned about this disparity and these consequences, I knew this is something I was meant to help fix. I am using AI as one of the technological tools to address the problem because studying at MIT and working at Google has taught me how it works. I’ve seen the potential this technology can have in improving efficiency in almost any domain.”

Audace returned to Rwanda last month to complete his last semester at MIT while launching a pilot for Insightive in Rwanda. This decision did not come easily, though. By the start of his junior year at MIT, Audace had already received a full-ride scholarship to pursue a graduate degree at MIT, an opportunity he fully intended to take.

“I had always known that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but until recently, I usually saw myself as someone who wanted to get “all the education” and “make all the money” before I could take the risk of putting myself out there to start and run my company,” Audace said. “However, the older I get, the more I realize that there are a lot of problems, challenges, and opportunities – especially in our countries – that cannot wait.”

“Choosing to defer graduate school was a very difficult decision… However, when I started learning about the healthcare system in Rwanda and in the region, I realized that there are very urgent problems, and for us who are lucky to have the skills and resources to tackle some of the challenges, delaying even by a single day is really irresponsible. There are so many people we can help save by acting now and not waiting tomorrow.”

Moving forward, Audace is focused on operationalizing teleradiology and AI use in Rwanda. Having already developed the proven technology, the greatest challenge he faces will be getting healthcare professionals up to speed on the power and limitations of the technology and ensuring that the technology is used appropriately. Once the technology is adopted, Audace and his team will be able to serve and improve the healthcare outcomes of thousands, if not millions, of patients.


Insightiv is currently part of the MIT IDEAS Social Innovation Challenge and is in the running to win funding for a summer pilot in Rwanda. You can help Audace win funding – vote for his project! Voting closes on April 26. 

Meet Chelsea Uwase, B2R Scholar and rising junior at the University of Chicago, who interned at University of Global Health-Equity in the Vice Chancellor’s Office. Chelsea spent the summer conducting a research project to study the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations, more specifically pregnant women and young kids in developing countries. 

“Working at the University of Global Health Equity, whose drive is to deliver care to the most vulnerable people in our communities, is a constant reminder that it is possible to think about systems where each and every one is included, even the ones that live in remote, under-resourced areas.”

She hopes that within the next five years she will be serving her community and contributing to solving the challenges that the health system in Rwanda is currently facing. 

Chelsea is pursuing a Global Studies major with a concentration on Governance and Affiliations, and Cultures At Work.

A rising senior at Georgetown University, Steven Mucyo interned with Dalberg Advisors this summer where he was exposed to different projects within his interests, including FinTech and financial inclusion. He is happy that his internship challenged him to use his academic knowledge and gave him confidence to believe in his ideas, despite his initial fears of making mistakes.

“I have learned that we are not expected to know everything, and we have to understand that growth takes time and deliberate effort. I also realized that being open to learning and asking questions could make work easier and more enjoyable.”

Steven is a Finance and Operations and Information Management (OPIM) double major and a French minor and hopes to run a business with his family in the future.

B2R Fellow, Emmanuel Bahizi, attended the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in Economics and Political Science. He graduated from Penn in May 2018 and recently returned home to Rwanda.

Bahizi was orphaned by the 1994 Genocide and was raised by his grandmother, a subsistence farmer in a rural village in Karongi District. Against all odds, he won a full ride scholarship to Penn, where he served on the Dean’s Advisory Board and various other student committees.

Bahizi presently serves as the Executive Assistant to the Chairman and the CEO of Bank of Kigali, Rwanda’s largest bank.

After completing her freshman year at Samford University in Birmingham, Class 5 Scholar Joyeuse Yvette Senga has returned home for a summer internship at the University of Global Health Equity in Kigali.

As a health care administration and public health major, Joyeuse is working alongside UGHE’s academic team to help improve the university’s curriculum and find new ways to engage and involve students in the classroom.

“It’s a humbling experience for me because I am working with a lot of professionals,” Joyeuse said. “There are four interns total and the other three are all going into their senior year, so there is a big gap. My first day I thought, ‘How will I manage?’’ But I think being a Brideg2Rwanda Scholar has helped me acknowledge that I’m not only contributing, I’m also learning. I think that by the time I go back [to school] I will leave with more knowledge than my peers because I will have learned a lot from them.“

Joyeuse is currently working to develop new curriculum for the UGHE Master’s program, which will help students tackle a variety of controversial issues that come up within the healthcare sector. One of the challenges Joyeuse and the academic team face is overcoming Rwanda’s reserved classroom culture, which often prevents Rwandan students from actively engaging in controversial discussions and challenging others’ opinions.

Having gone through the B2R program, Joyeuse finds she has a unique perspective and helpful insights that set her apart from her peers.

“Going into the B2R gap-year, we weren’t used to raising our hand and discussing controversial issues or opposing someone’s views and I think that’s something that many of the students in the Master’s program might be facing. It’s a cultural thing where we are used to being more reserved and not being able to raise our hand and tell the professor, ‘I don’t think you’re right, but I think I can add something…’” she explained. “I think being at Bridge2Rwanda and learning [to engage others and have my own opinion] has helped me to think critically and have a different perspective in this internship.”

Through the summer internships, B2R hopes to not only provide the Scholars with professional experience, but also to show them practical ways they can use their skills and passions to develop their home country.

“When you’re in the gap-year program you of course have the idea that you will come back, but you don’t actually know what that will look like,” Joyeuse said. “I think it’s very important for students to come back to Rwanda, first of all, to see how much our country has progressed and then to figure out how we can contribute to that progress.”

“Coming back not only reminds you of home, but it also helps you acknowledge the fact that when you are gone there are people here who are doing something. The development doesn’t stop. There are still people here working hard. I think it’s a good reminder to see where your country is – your culture, your values, and what defines you as a person.”

After several years of working in admissions at Vanderbilt University and as a college counselor at a private high school, Joy Beth Bodie felt an unmistakable calling to support African students in their journeys to college. In 2013, Joy Beth (an Alabama native!) made the move to Rwanda’s capital city to join our team as College Counselor and Student Advisor. Here she shares what is most rewarding about her job, what her life is like in Kigali, and what makes the Scholars exceptional.

What is your role?

I help students tell their stories through personal essays and apply to schools that I feel are the right fit. I also welcome university admissions counselors when they visit Rwanda and help them plan their visit. When I’m on the ground in Kigali, I live with the students in their house. This past fall, I taught a yoga class every Sunday night as well as a co-led a Bible study for the girls alongside Liz. I love being able to help when students are sick or stressed about standardized test scores. Living with them is an opportunity for me to get to know them in a different way.

When I’m in the U.S., I often travel to universities. Managing relationships with universities is a big part of college counseling. It’s important for the admissions officers at the schools where our students apply to trust me when I say that “this scholar is the best fit for your school for this reason.”

You’ve mentioned before that you felt called to move to Africa. How did you feel when you arrived?

When Anna presented the opportunity to do this full time, I said yes the next day and quit my job the following day. I had such a peace about the decision. When I arrived and Anna took me to the office, the students were so nice and welcoming but started drilling me with questions. I remember one student asked me, “What is your life mission statement?” Their questions certainly challenged me, especially in the midst of jet lag, but immediately I knew that I was going to enjoy working with such special students.

Getting to know my students’ stories, personalities, and dreams and then being able to represent them to universities keeps me going, as it is a true honor and privilege.

How did you like living in Kigali?

Kigali is an easy city to live in, especially due to how safe and clean it is. In the beginning, I bought a pink scooter, which I still drive around town. There’s good food as well as a decent gym that I visit frequently. Instead of going shopping, I get clothes made—that’s my little side hobby. I lead baking classes with the students and host girls’ nights and holiday parties. I’ve made some good friends from the program, too. Overall, I’ve never been happier in a job.

How do you match Scholars to schools?

I’m able to match the students through a mix of visiting the schools, talking to admissions counselors, getting to know the students in groups or one-on-one, and being ultra-sensitive to my discerning spirit. Sometimes it happens within a few weeks of knowing a student, and sometimes it happens a few days before the admissions deadline.

Why are schools attracted to B2R Scholars?

They are attracted to our overall mission and the fact that the students are committed to returning home after graduating. If schools are going to invest in the students, it’s reassuring that they will be returning and investing in their country—it’s not brain drain. There’s a greater benefit.

The first students at a particular school pave the way. When they start to get involved on campus, it’s hard not to notice and want more students like that. We have 20 to 25 schools who visit us in Rwanda per year, and our gap-year students share about Bridge2Rwanda and ask questions that are extremely thoughtful.

Also, our students go to college prepared because they’ve been through a gap year. They have experience writing research papers, they’ve learned about leadership, and also have a spirit of humility, which makes them attractive.

What is your relationship with the schools?

Most admissions offices have a person in charge of Africa. The longer I know an admissions officer, the more connected we are. They trust that I’m going to speak openly about a student’s application. If a student is deferred or denied, the admissions counselor can provide some insight. It’s about an honest relationship.

What value do Scholars offer schools?

Our students are innovative. Benon at Samford College is one of the co-founders of their African Student Organization. Emmanuel at Rochester University is starting an international student organization. They’re not afraid to bring new organizations to campus nor step into leadership roles. Some of our students serve as tour guides, orientation leaders, resident assistants, and peer mentors while others play club sports and are members of traditional dance troupes.

They also dispel myths about their countries. We challenge them to educate their classmates, or else they’re going to be frustrated by people who don’t know much about Africa. For example, Pierrette at Lafayette College recently took a class on genocide around the world. The professor asked her to be in it because she wanted her to speak up in class about Rwanda’s history.

At TCU, during Rwanda’s memorial week, the students put up Rwandan flags in the main quad area. They have a commemoration service and invite everyone at TCU. When their classmates see excitement surrounding Rwanda or Africa, they ask our students to share with them.

The Bridge2Rwanda mission is to Build a bridge between the United States and Rwanda and transform lives at both ends. How has that applied to your life?

My life is forever changed. Rwanda will always be a part of it. One of my favorite phrases is “Ndi umunyarwanda kazi umutima” (I am Rwandan in my heart). Living among the students has taught me about community and supporting one another through the ups and the downs. Rwandans truly care for one another, and that has made an impact on me personally.

I see Rwanda as being a bright light within the continent of Africa, and I know that our students are going to play a big role in its continual development. They’re going to do big things in the years to come, and I can’t wait to watch it. I’ll be cheering them on! When Martin from South Sudan and Bienfait from Congo run for president, I’m ready to support them [laughs].

Thank you, Joy Beth!

Born-and-raised Texans Dub and Valerie Stocker live in Fort Worth and host Scholars who attend Abilene Christian University, Dub’s alma mater, and Texas Christian University. Dub also serves on the board of Bridge2Rwanda, they’ve both made several trips to Rwanda, and they have been instrumental in connecting B2R with donors and university partners.

Dub and Valerie have five children, three grandchildren and several Rwandan students who have become an important part of their family. Here, they talk about introducing the Scholars to new activities, how being a host family has impacted them, and how the Scholars change while studying abroad…

How did you learn about Bridge2Rwanda?

Dub: One morning in 2010, I went to hear Bishop John Rucyahana, an Anglican bishop from Rwanda who faced many hardships and risked his life during the 1994 genocide. The story quickly transformed to a story of reconciliation, forgiveness and restored hope. I was literally so moved that, just like an altar call, I walked down the aisle and said “I will come to your country.”

Valerie: I had wanted to go Africa, and we were planning to go to Kenya with a student group. When Dub walked in, he said “We are going to Rwanda” and I said “OK!”

Dub: At the end of that year, I met Bridge2Rwanda. Next thing I knew, my friend [and B2R Board Member] Tom Wilson sent me a Halftime book and introduced me to Dale Dawson, the founder of B2R, and we went to Rwanda. We fell in love with the people of Rwanda, and I recognized the potential of this small country. We became fast friends with B2R Country Director Tom Allen and next thing I knew, Dale and I were talking about the Scholars program and how he needed to raise money to buy computers. I walked to my desk and wrote him a check so he wouldn’t have to wait to get the program off the ground. The partnership we have with Dale is one of the most cherished in my life.

Tell us about the Scholars you host. Where do they go to college? What is your relationship like with them?

Dub: For the first class, we were the grandparents of them all. We were the official host family for two ACU Scholars, Mike and Nancy, but the third ACU Scholar, Emma, was here all the time. We also host Bright and Jonathan, juniors at ACU. And then we host a freshman at TCU, Manyiel, who’s at our house right now. We not only sponsor, but we’re kind of considered the grandfather and grandmother of the host families. That’s the part that we love: the family environment.

Valerie: They make me want to be a better person. When I’m hanging out them, they’re all very special. It’s moving to learn about the students and their hardships and hearing in-depth about what their lives were like growing up. They’re humble and hardworking, funny and smart, and they love the Lord. It makes me want to be with them. It’s such a blessing!

When do you spend time with them? What kind of activities do you do together?

Valerie: We’ve taken them to ride horses. Teaching them to swim was so funny. We’d take them to the IMAX. If they’d never seen movie, they really loved that.

Dub: We’ve taken them to cattle drives and football games. We’ve taken them to dinner a lot. We’ve taken some to a ranch in south Texas.

Valerie: And we go to church! We try to teach them manners—holding the door open, putting your napkin in your lap, how to floss. I tell them “You don’t have to floss them all, just the ones you want to keep!” [laughs], just basic etiquette. They really listen and learn.

Dub: We treat them like our kids. We took them to the George Bush Library and ate lunch in Dallas and had a great time doing that. We’ve been to their graduations. We give them a lot of career advice. I call them son or daughter, and they’re just like our children.

Valerie: We joke with them a lot. And they keep their rooms so clean! I tell my daughters “Have you noticed their rooms?” They wash dishes without asking. I really appreciate it because there are lots of dishes when all the students are around!

Have your kids developed a relationship with the Scholars?

Valerie: Our kids love them. Our daughter Leah has been their driver from Abilene to Fort Worth for years! They have a great time. They’re close. Sometimes they even fight like brother and sister! They’re like siblings, it’s funny.

Dub: Valerie is an incredible nurturer. She loves the kids and she spoils them. I tell her “They’re no different than our kids,” and she says “No, they had it harder.”

How do the Scholars change while they’re studying abroad?

Valerie: When they’re freshman, they’re unsure of themselves and less confident. Even physically, they change so much. They definitely mature spiritually. We help them, but I think they just grow on their own. They learn the language better and learn what’s going on culturally. By the time they’re seniors, they are so impressive. We’re just so proud of them! Also, they reach out and find their own internships. They’re so diligent about working.

Dub: They become more sophisticated, in a good way. They are going to be great leaders and great pieces of the Lord’s body and his expanding kingdom. They will be great agents of improving the lives of the poor in Rwanda.

The Bridge2Rwanda vision is to Build a bridge between the United States and Rwanda and transform lives at both ends. How has that applied to your life?

Dub: These students have become part our our family. We will hopefully someday travel to Rwanda to celebrate with them when they get married and have kids. This has definitely been an affirmation of God’s providence.

We had eight students here last week, and we were having a discussion about how God knew what we were going to be doing way before we did, and I said “What are the odds that you guys would be sitting in Fort Worth, Texas, with us, tonight, together, discussing these important issues?” It’s beyond any statistical probability. It’s absolutely divine. I just feel affirmed that I’m using the gifts God gave me in a good way, and that He has blessed us with the loving relationships of these students.

Valerie: It’s definitely been realized in my life. We want them to be the light of Africa. We need to remember that these kids are going to change Rwanda, which in turn, will change Africa.

Thank you, Dub and Valerie!

Interested in being a host family? Email Anna Phillips at aphillips@bridge2rwanda.org for more information.

Jackson Karama was in the first class of B2R Scholars that graduated in May. He earned a scholarship to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he learned more than just physics and sailing. Today, he lives in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, and serves as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Rwanda Air Force. Here, he talks about his biggest inspirations and shares a funny story from when he arrived at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

What was your childhood like in Rwanda?

I was born in Uganda in the refugee camp in 1990. My family came back from Rwanda and lived in the Eastern Province, in Nyagatare, in 1994.

From 1994 to 1999, most of the schools were churches, so we went to a church school. We spent most of the time at my grandmother’s house hunting, herding cows, and sharing meals together. During school time, we’d stay with my uncle and auntie, whom I call my parents because they brought me up with six other siblings. That was the life until 2000, when we moved to Uganda and continued primary school, where we learned new languages. I later came back to Rwanda for secondary school in Kigali. After graduating in 2010, I worked as a teacher at the school I graduated from, and in 2011, I started at Bridge2Rwanda. I came to the U.S. in 2012.

How did Bridge2Rwanda prepare you to come to the U.S.?

I learned a lot, a lot of English. I tried doing the ACT and TOFEL before but my scores improved greatly when I came to Bridge2Rwanda. The leaders like Dale and Anna are very encouraging. They have inspiring stories about what they’ve done in life, but it was also humbling to hear how they came to Rwanda to take Rwandan kids and train them, to help them become better. That was mind-blowing to us! Our teachers did so much to prepare us and kept pushing us even when we thought we were going to fail. I learned that if we can work this hard, as they do, we can succeed as well.

I also learned that community service is an important tool for helping me discover what I want to do in life. Bridge2Rwanda helped us go to orphanages where kids would look up to us as inspiration, and that made me want to work hard so I can show them they can do it too, so they have this hope that they can do great things. That’s when I discovered I had to be in a place of leadership or service for the country to make an impact, and that’s why I joined the military.

By default, in the military, you’re given rank, so there are people below you who look to you for guidance. It’s good that I have experience with leadership. I’m still learning more so I can get more leadership responsibilities with the Air Force.

What was the U.S. Coast Guard Academy like? 

I went thinking I’d get a good education and come back but I was shocked by how much more the Coast Guard taught me. I got a mechanical engineering degree, but the most impact it had on me was changing my way of thinking, making me a leader, and impacting my work ethic.

People here in Rwanda want to get jobs, work for money and for some, want to get rich, but I feel like, after the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, if I had a job or didn’t have a job, I’ll still make a living. I’ve been equipped with so much, education and lifewise. I was challenged so much. Like swimming in oceans and lakes in cold places. I thought I would die if i did that! I’ve done things that made me think that I can do more than I thought I would and it’s made me excited about life because I realize I can make a change in the things I don’t like. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy definitely added more to me as a person. Education was just part of it. It’s more about the possibilities of working hard and thinking I can do anything.

When I first arrived at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, I was punished for smiling a lot. I had to keep a serious face, so I had to be on a Smile Train for a whole week. A Smile Train is smiling for a whole week without stopping. You can stop when you’re sleeping, but if anyone’s watching you, you have to be smiling all the time. That was the punishment. After that, I didn’t smile anymore! 

Was the U.S. different than you expected? 

America was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. When I was younger, I thought America was paradise. Doing Bridge2Rwanda, they helped us watch movies on Friday Movie Nights and friends from the U.S. would tell us about it. College life was different at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy than at other places. So many people encouraged me so much. My host family took care of me like their own son. My teachers were amazing and encouraged me. My friends took me to their houses where I became like their brother. It was like a family. When I got there, I didn’t know I’d ever connect. I thought I was going to be a little lost. But it felt like home at the end of the four years. I wanted to come back to Rwanda because I knew I’d be more useful here, but the U.S. was still amazing.

The Bridge2Rwanda vision is to Build a bridge between here and Rwanda and transform lives at both ends. How has that applied to your life?

Bridge2Rwanda enables a young generation of Rwandans to get a college education. They don’t pay for us to go, but they equip us with something more expensive than money: the ability to earn scholarships, which is amazing and which no one has been able to do in Rwanda. Some are trying to fill that gap but they can’t. Bridge2Rwanda has filled that gap. Me and my friends who just got back are working in big positions, and not at small institutions. I’m doing things I can do because I’ve been to the U.S. and have been trained. I can do things that are useful because I’ve been taught. The bridge between people in the U.S. and Rwanda is incredible, so evident and so valuable to us.

If I didn’t go to school in the U.S., I don’t think I’d have this much education or this position. I couldn’t afford to go to university in Rwanda, so I’d be herding my mom’s cows or something, trying to be a man. There’s definitely a huge difference between what it could have been and now.

Thank you so much, Jackson!