I first spotted Ruth Misinga, senior, at the Leesville Liaisons New Student Lunch meeting on the second day of school. Her head was on the table, and her Chick-fil-a chicken sandwich remained untouched.
“If I were still in Kenya, I would be sleeping right now,” she said. “How can we eat lunch this early?”
In Mesinga’s boarding school, students attended classes at their will, and were held accountable for a national test held at the end of the year.
“I got to wake up around noon and attend as many classes as I wanted throughout the day,” said Mesinga. “All of this waking up early just does not seem right to me.”
Mesinga moved to the United States in 2009, nine years after her parent’s arrival in 2000.
“I could have come with them [in 2000], but I wanted to finish up at the boarding school with my friends,” said Misinga.
In Kenya, students attend what they call universities until they are eligible to graduate in the 11th grade.
Universities are usually rigorous, and from an early age, students are expected to pick a focus of study–similar to a major in college.
“It’s a lot harder over there,” said Mesinga. “People complain about exams and tests over here, but if someone fails a subject in Kenya, they are not remediated.”
At her boarding school, Mesinga was chosen by her peers to be a Captain.
Captains are prestigious titles that are usually hard to obtain, and serve about the same role as a college dorm Resident Assistant.
As a Captain, Mesinga was in charge of organizing outings, coaching dancers for national dancing competitions, and counseling people if they needed help.
“It was quite an honor to receive the position,” said Mesinga.
Misinga is also fluent in English, Swahili and the urban and rural dialects of two Kenyan tribes: the Kisii and the Kikuyu.
“Originally, I am from the Kisii tribe, but I was placed in a Kikuyu school,” she said. “The language was not as hard as English, but the clicks and sounds are different from my native tongue.”
“I love learning new languages,” said Mesinga. “People might think my English is a little strange because it is more of a British English, which is what I learned in school.”
A frustrating aspect of learning English for Mesinga is what she calls “made up words.”
“What’s Gucci? I don’t even know what that is, so I couldn’t tell you,” she said.
While Mesinga has enjoyed discovering a new place, she can not help missing home.
“In Kenya, who you think you are defines the way people see you; In America, the way people see you seems to effect who you are, which is sad to me.”