In Tanzania, my male family members would almost always eat together.
They would sit in a circle and they wouldn’t talk because they might spit food on each other. They would wait until they were done eating before discussing the news or telling stories. My grandfather was the leader of the group, but he would listen to everyone. He loved to be around other people. When he had snacks he would invite someone to share with him. His love of other people taught me not only to share, but also to respect everyone. I know in the classroom to respect the teacher and my classmates. I can learn important things from everyone.
I loved my grandmother. She was fun and sometimes harsh. When I was 11 years old I had to carry water from the community sink to my home. Every time we needed to cook, wash dishes, and clean things, I was the one who had to get the water and bring it home. So when I wanted help carrying the water, I would ask my brothers if they could help me. They would say “no,” and when I would tell my grandmother that my brothers didn’t help me to carry water, she would remember. She would not let them drink water or take showers. They would have to get their own water.
My grandmother taught me that to earn something, you have to work for it. This lesson has stuck with me throughout my education and I am bringing this attitude to college. I know I have to work for my grades and my degree.
Domitira was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo after her parents fled genocide in their home country of Burundi. She lived in a refugee camp in Tanzania until she was 15, when she received resettlement in the U.S. with her mother and five siblings. Domitira recently became the first person in her family to graduate from high school. She is now 19 years old and attending Harold Washington College in Chicago. She hopes to study nursing and give back to her community.