The third term of the 2013 school year is off to a wild and busy start. Senior 6 (4th year), Enrichment Year (1st year) and Senior 4 (2nd year) students are all gearing their studies toward their National Exams, which is scheduled to be administered at the end of October through the beginning of November. After school Enrichment Programs, Monday night clubs, Professional Skills and Tikkun Olam activities are all back in full swing and this term is bound to fly by in no time at all.

Amidst it all, our Long Term Volunteers, who have been working in the Student Resource Center all year, have volunteered to extend their year of service for an extra week to launch the first ever Application Boot Camp (comically coined and referred to among the staff and student body as ABC)!

Application Boot Camp is going to provide an opportunity for candidates from the current Senior 6 students, our 2013 graduating class, to get a head start on their international university applications. Scheduled for the first week of the term break in the middle of November, Application Boot Camp will help students apply for programs, including the MasterCard Scholars Program, which provides full scholarships for students to study at select universities in the United States and Canada, as well as the Bridge to Rwanda Program, which is a year-long program in which students receive application assistance and college preparation courses, along with additional college-prep programs in Rwanda and beyond!

Of the 122 Senior 6 students, our Long Term Volunteers estimate that they will receive approximately 70 applications from those who hope to participate. The students who will be selected are required to have demonstrated a high level of competency in English, a commitment to hard work and a high likelihood that they will be able to succeed at a competitive international university. The application process to participate in Application Boot Camp involves the submission of two essays. Students have been working diligently to complete exceptional pieces of writing and have been calling on all the Long Term Volunteers in the Village for help in perfecting and editing their applications.  The first essay question comes directly from last year’s Common Application and asks students to discuss in less than 500 words, one of five topics. They range from describing an influential role model to telling their life story, which for our Agahozo-Shalom students is particularly compelling. Many students have chosen to tell of their experiences prior to coming to the Village and they have written extraordinary accounts of their struggles with losing parents, surviving the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsis, the challenge of finding reliable sources of food and water, or the difficulties they have encountered in trying to attend school and pay their school fees prior to arriving at the ASYV. 

The second essay comes directly from the 2013 MasterCard Scholars application and requires students to write, in 300 words or less, a description of a time when they have met a challenge and discuss what they learned in overcoming that challenge. Again, many students have called upon their compelling and exceptional life-experiences. A number of students have mentioned in their essays what it has meant for them to come and live at Agahozo-Shalom and the significant role our Village has played in framing their future and their overall outlook on life.

The hope is that the students who are selected to participate in Application Boot Camp will get a head start on the 2014 university application process. The deadline is this coming Thursday and our Long Term Volunteers who have framed this new, innovative opportunity are excited to see this exciting program come to fruition. 

Submitted by Shira Liff-Grieff, ASYV long-term volunteer