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.”