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Think Global, Act Local: Have You Met Sir Innocent Nsengiyumva

Photo by Nolan P. Schmidt

Habari Gani!

During this freezing February, I wanted to talk with someone who could do two things while sharing their story: irradiates warmth with their contagious smile and regale us with tales of a region where it is warm in February :-)… I think I found the right person for this ice melting task:

Allow me to introduce you to Sir Innocent Nsengiyumva a third-year undergraduate at Concordia pursuing a career in healthcare. He aspires to one day serve others as a Physician Assistant proving care in underserved areas in the U.S. and globally. When he was 7, Innocent and his mother Meneliva immigrated to Fargo from Tanzania. His goals and motivations revolve around family as they are very central in his life. He wrestled for Concordia his freshman year but is now involved on the residence life team and a member of a few select campus clubs. In his free time, Innocent likes to be outside, spend time with family and friends, and practice his Spanish at local Mexican restaurants in town!

Fargo is fortunate to have him call here his home and we are excited to see what he accomplishes in the near future!

– Cyusa

Where do you call home?

I consider “Home” to be a place where I am surrounded with love, connected with its people, earth and a place in which I have a sense of belonging and purpose. Fargo is a special place to me. It has been a place with a lot of “firsts” for me; first room, first bicycle, first TV, first car, first friend from (Liberia, Bosnia, and many other cultures from around the world). I have learned here that it is important to find “your people.” People that understand you and people you can always rely on. We have been blessed with so many wonderful people in our lives and they are what have made this place home.

The story of your passion for traveling…

I think everyone loves to travel, or at least I would guess, so I’d say I am no different in that sense. I think my passion for traveling comes from being able to meet new people and create new memories. When I get the opportunity to travel, I am transformed into a more adventurous, outgoing and confident version of myself. I seek to build as many connections and create as many lasting memories as I can. Traveling makes me fearless, I put down my guard and become free to people and experiences.

How was is it transitioning from high school to Concordia?

I was accustomed to navigating things on my own in high school so when I got to college things were no different. I wrestled during my first year and that helped me stay organized and disciplined with my schoolwork. The most effective motivator and source of inspiration however has been my family. Whenever I find myself struggling to find the motivation or tempted by friends and distractions, I simply remind myself why I am here, why I am doing it and that I am not just doing it for myself.

Why should people care about worlds outside of the Midwest?

Engaging with others from around the world, even just around the country, can help us better connect and understand life outside of our own. When we read and learn from others outside of our circle, not only do we get exposed to the rich differences between us but also to the unifying values that we all share. It is important for us to be concerned about world issues and current events so that we can be informed and engaged citizens.

What are some misconceptions or clichés of your country’s region?

A misconception that pains me to hear and one that I would like to open people’s eyes to is the misconception around Mexico along with the stereotypes about Mexicans. There is a widespread belief that all of Mexico is extremely dangerous with lots of crimes and drugs. Well, like the U.S. and other large countries around the world, there are regions and neighborhoods that are unsafe. However, overall, it is a safe country with amazing people. There are millions of people who will never experience the culture and beauty because of the negative stereotypes that they have.

What did you learn growing up in between many cultures that you can apply in Fargo?

I learned at a young age from my mother and family to always respect and care for others. In many African cultures, building community and caring for others are core aspects and they serve as values that I strive to achieve in my everyday life. Here in America, I have learned the importance of celebrating individuality in addition to embracing independence. Initially, these two ways of life clashed but in the end, I came to integrate both. Both cultures have allowed me to pursue my own interests and passions in life. Each decision and action is guided by the principles of respecting and caring for others.

What is your vision 2030? Where will you be and why?

Looking ahead to 2030, by this point in my life I will have finished my studies and have worked a few years as a Physician Assistant. I hope in the future to have traveled more and to have experienced more than just Fargo, N.D. More recently,
I have begun to fantasize about returning to Tanzania or relocating to any medically underserved population overseas and working abroad. Additionally, I have envisioned myself living and working in an area with a more diverse population like California or Texas – Just someplace that’s warm all year!

Fun facts from Burundi & Tanzania

  • The earliest human skull in the world, dating back 2 million years, was discovered in Tanzania.
  • The most famous national park of Tanzania, The Serengeti National Park, is home to the migration of over two million wildebeests, zebras and gazelles. This migration is considered one of the seven natural wonders of Africa. The national park was also a major inspiration for the Disney movie “The Lion King.”
  • The official languages of Burundi are French and Kirundi.
  • Burundian drummers are worldly known for their spectacular performances and unique chance to participate in the dances offered at the Gishora Drum Sanctuary. They are present for major modern-day events such as weddings, coronations, funerals and celebrations.

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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