Global Education

Global Focus: Karine Byamana

By Laura Haime
Published: June 2010

Within the hallways of Newton South, a Rwandan immigrant has become inspired to discover her passions and follow her dreams.
Karine Byamana was born in Madagascar and since the age of 6, she has moved back and forth between Massachusetts, Rwanda, and the occasional boarding school in Uganda.

While most students at South attend three schools between kindergarten and twelfth grade, Karine Byamana went to nine different schools.
Her father originally moved to the states in hopes of better opportunities for his children, but his job forced him to return to Rwanda.

Although her father resides in Rwanda, Byamana decided to stay in Newton when she was a sophomore to be with her two older sisters.

Currently, Byamana lives with her stepmother, who is from the Dominican Republic.

With so many representations of different cultures in her house, Byamana has become rather cosmopolitan.

“I feel like an international person- I don’t have a set nationality, Byamana said. “I’m a worldly child.

Although Byamana “[feels] comfortable in every culture, she believes her experience in the United States has shaped her the most. “I see many opportunities around me, and it motivates me. It’s more likely that I can become someone here than if I were in Rwanda, Byamana said. “I want to be able to do something I really believe in.

Byamana has not discovered her dreams yet, but she does believe that Newton South has put her in the right direction.

“There’s a wide range of activities and extracurriculars but what it comes down to is what you can handle and what you love. [The school] lays a lot of things out for you and you get to choose. At the end of the day, it’s all about being an individual.

As Byamana describes it, however, Rwanda would not inspire the same motivation that South does.

Byamana remembers her life in Rwanda and illustrates the atmosphere as being very provincial.

“In Rwanda they know about their own culture, but that’s all they’re interested in, Byamana said.

She also explains how she feels restricted in Rwanda: “You’re really judged by your appearance a lot more.

Fortunately, Byamana found comfort in the classrooms of Newton South.

Her favorite class, African American Literature, has showed Byamana the importance of individuality.

“[South] allows you to create yourself, Byamana said, “It’s only a matter of finding the right people to hear you out, and then just doing it.
Byamana graduates from South today, but she will continue to grow and discover herself regardless of her location.

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