No longer a spectator but an actor

No longer a spectator but an actor

Melchior Nsavyimana, from Burundi, is specializing in Political Studies and is enrolled in the first year.


Burundi’s second name is ‘Heart of Africa.’

It is a very beautiful name which speaks of its reality, a country in Oriental Africa, not very extensive, full of natural beauty… But Burundi has withstood a long civil war, lasting more than 12 years, and its consequences on the political, economic and social level are still visible in its daily life. 
The violence has touched my life as well.  In such a context, the desire to work towards rebuilding my country was like a passion that grew inside of me…I wanted to do everything possible so that the people of Burundi could once again find the joy of living. 
After getting a degree in geography, I started to work in the humanitarian support sector and at the same time I also participated in political life.  However, I often felt that I was missing a specific political competence: it was like a barrier that put brakes to my commitment. For this reason, it became a pressing priority to find a place where I could do my studies in the political field.


(Melchior Nsavyimana in IUS students choir at the Opening of the Academic Year 2012/2013)


How did you come to know about the IUS?

I heard some friends, members of the Focolare Movement talk about Sophia:  it attracted me right away, even if the experience per se seemed unreal...  The objectives of the Institute seemed to me to be quite idealistic for a university.  The context of life whence I came suggested the maximum realism to me; furthermore, my financial resources were very limited.
“But – I said to myself – it would be worth trying....”  I set myself to it and after a while I learned of a person who was offering a scholarship so that I could start this experience.


When did you arrive?  How do you feel today?

I arrived last September; in these three months I must say I have received much more than what I expected.  The program courses are giving me the theoretical preparation I was looking for, but then there are also the personal meetings with the professors, with the other students, and the moments lived in the residences which offer me a lot of practical knowledge…
The way we face difficulties here at Sophia – since we come from the four corners of the world, you could say – helped me understand that, if we want, unity is always possible.  In front of me are the objectives I wish to reach:  and the very fact of being so different one from the other is a richness, a point of value.

I can say that I am becoming conscious of what I myself can do, and must be, for the others: no longer a spectator, but a protagonist.  I have decided to make my personal abilities available to the others.  This means for example, finding a solution to problems together, offering council when it is necessary, a bit of support in studying, a bit of material help when it seems I have nothing to give, or even accepting the other the way he is…

Have you interrupted your political commitment?  Or are you able to keep some contacts?

The discovery of the positive side of diversity has allowed me to ‘restructure’ some relationships I had until yesterday with those who have different ideas from me.
Before, because of the social and political context, merely stopping to talk to someone from the other side was costing me immensely.  Life at Sophia has helped me understand that even the one in opposition can have a constructive role.
Now I know that I don’t have to conclude the biennial in order to give my contribution.  I have been in touch with some young people whom I considered my opposition previously and, through e-mails we write, I am realizing that we are opening a new page.

Do you ever feel nostalgic?

Yes, especially when I think of all I left behind, and knowing that I won’t find upon my return, but this also is transformed into one more reason to live every moment of this day deeply…  Committing  myself to paying attention to the other, through listening and sharing, while studying, or doing anything else, is what gives fullest sense to my days.

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