Refugee finds happiness at AC:

Jolie Mwiza
Photo by Les Jones.

By Les Jones:

After growing up in a war-torn country with danger and death around every corner, living in the United States is a dream. For 21-year-old education major, Jolie Mwiza, living in the U.S. and attending Amarillo College is a gift that she is enjoying to the fullest.

Mwiza was born in the African country of Congo in 1996. That same year the first Congo War broke out. Many experts regard it as Africa’s World War due to how large it was and the mass genocide that ensued.

Mwiza and her family managed to escape to Burundi, Uganda when she was nine years old, however, tragedy would follow. The family left the refugee camp on Thursday, August 12, 2004. On Friday, Aug 13, 2004, a brutal massacre took place at the camp. One hundred sixty women and children were killed in the massacre. An additional 100 refugees suffered from machete and bullet wounds.

The day after the carnage, Mwiza’s grandfather returned to the camp and fearing his family had died in the massacre, suffered a fatal heart attack.

Mwiza and the family settled in Uganda. She attended boarding school where she learned English. “One of the major differences is that in Africa you must pay to go to school as a child. In the United States you do not,” Mwiza said.

At the age of 18, Mwiza and her family moved to the United States with the help of a refugee program. The family of 10 first settled in Houston, Texas.

After a year in Houston, the family moved to Amarillo, Texas. “There was a much better opportunity for jobs and education than in Houston,” Mwiza said. Once in Amarillo, Mwiza obtained her G.E.D. and enrolled at AC.

Many of Mwiza’s classmates and teachers say she has been a great addition to AC and they are happy she is here.

“Jolie was a joy to teach and have in my classroom. She always had a smile on her face and worked very hard,” Karen White, an associate professor of developmental math, said.

Mwiza said she hopes to one day become an elementary teacher. Her classmates agree that being an elementary school teacher would be great for Mwiza. “She is a loving woman who loves to help others,” Merci Ruremesha, an engineering major, said.

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