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Message From A Mentee: Sharon Batamuriza

Message From A Mentee: Sharon Batamuriza


My name is Sharon Batamuriza, and I am majoring in International Relations and Human Rights at Bennington College in Vermont. My college experience is worth more than words can say. Bennington is a small school, but it has a good, strong community. When I began my first term as an international student, it was kind of hard to communicate since I was in a new environment; I didn’t know what was accurate to say, and what was not. Honestly, it seemed overwhelming. However, after one month, I began getting used to the school; all the students and the professors were very supportive and friendly.

Bennington College is a fabulous and unique school, and I’m not saying this just because I go there but because it is. The fact that the school allows me to join any class and explore the curriculum to determine my major indicates that the school respects my decisions. I like that our class sizes are small and that I can ask questions easily. It’s also very convenient to meet with a teacher in case I have any questions or problems in a class. I have been able to join different activities such as the multicultural club, food sustainability club, and badminton, which have helped to expand my interactions and connections with people. My roommate is awesome; she is one of the people who assisted me with the transition into the Bennington College community.

The Vermont landscape is much like Rwanda’s, although Rwanda is not as cold as Vermont. I miss home constantly, but I’m glad that I am able to Skype with my family and friends regularly. I have found kindness in the extended Bennington community and warmth in the Vermont community in general.  I am very glad to have settled in at Bennington; this summer I am working in the Student Life office, Library, and campus bookstore and enjoying the Vermont summer!

My special thanks go to Barbara Bylenga and all the members of Open A Door.  I wouldn’t be where I am without OAD’s support and contributions. My mentor, Ali Berlin has been a blessing to me since the day Barbara introduced me to her.  She supports me spiritually, emotionally and physically on a daily basis. I’m so appreciative to have her in my life. She has given me strength to strive for my goals, to be independent, and to never settle for less.

As an OAD scholar, my goal is to make sure that my education doesn’t just benefit me but that it becomes something that I can share to make a change not only in Africa, but globally.