Why I chose to study in Mauritius? by Julia Gihozo


Why I chose to study in Mauritius - Reflections by Julia Gihozo

Muraho! Welcome to the story of Julia Gihozo who comes from Rwanda and decided to study in Mauritius at the African Leadership College located in the north of the island.

Why I chose to study in Mauritius by Julia Gihozo is a project interview by Dietmar Reigber of a student from Rwanda currently studying in Mauritius at the ALC (African Leadership College). We see students from various countries of the world in various locations of Mauritius. What if you could get a glimpse into their life? Get to know where they come from, their walk in life, where they are at in their journey and their future aspirations. We did exactly this in this project. I welcome you to this long read! Please bookmark it.

An Insight on Julia Gihozo

Foreword

As it is customary in this blog, collaborative projects start with an introduction written by me. The introduction sets the stage. I introduce to the reader why I began the journey on the topic that will follow. I usually write an extensive introduction, by extensive I mean long intro after the near completion of the project. Brian Kipchumba, who is also a student at ALC once asked me why are the articles so long? Also including the point that many people now have only a short span of attention. We then had an interesting chat, the answers to his remark covered reasons such as that the articles go into deep details and also because I like to write this way. There is no need for me to write the articles in a search optimised manner nor to retain readers for a long time on the blog for statistics purposes by strategically keeping the articles short! The articles express themselves in a way how the authors want them to be. Whenever I watch a movie, or a series, there are these moments, where attention is spent on some minor detail, where you would think, in a fast paced world, why turn down the velocity of events. Like right now I am reading the first book of DUNE and the author goes into great extent whenever a character thinks about something, the process of how they think and feel. I like that!

This introduction might change while the project is in progress. You will of course get the final version of this project to read, that is if you are reading this, the complete project has by then been published on Siloi.NET and I estimate that this content might also generate a few comments from readers who are about to embark into the process of figuring out where and what they will study after they are done with high school or work. Likewise you might be already studying and pondering if you want to change into another location and institution or where to do your masters next, you might also know the author and contribute in the comments section your experience and methodology of how you came to select your place of studying which will enhance and be ubuntu!


Ubuntu: In Xhosa, …in a more philosophical sense to meanthe belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”” ~Wikipedia


I think the philosophical definition of ubuntu as quoted above makes up for one of several reasons why there is a good motivation for working on such a project. Various articles that are projects published on this blog have addressed themes and questions that provide useful answers. The blog is not limited to such, as it is a creative expression canvas of a wide variety of interests, the intersection of various disciplines. Various topics covered found me, I didn’t go out there looking for them.

The blog started in 2014. There have been periods, years, where I barely blogged. I do not sit down and ask myself what am I going to blog about this week, month or year. This creative canvas doesn’t create this kind of pressure to deliver by default. This is not a monetized blog. Meaning I do not need to create optimised content that would create sales. If you are curious of what I’m up to, the one who is writing this introduction, I’m a bit entrepreneurial who plays electric guitar, I like to work on a small scale plantation, make beverages such as kombucha and lemonades some of which are sugar free and work on projects for the blog – that is here in Mauritius. I like reading a lot, hiking while appreciating the colours and rhythm of nature, and learning a lot from reading, and taking notes – the art of writing. In my journey of life, as time passes by, like for us all we age everyday, through various activities that I practice, I get to know people of various walks of life from time to time. Activities could also refer to networking. I’ll quote with you in a moment a very interesting definition that you can put into practice in your life. As I estimate that many students and high school leavers will be reading in here, when you are about to leave home or still in your late teens, the term and concept of networking will not necessarily be something you might be familiar with, or if you are, you might, referring to my own case, when I was a teenager, would found it a difficult uncomfortable step forward. It gets harder if you are shy or just don’t like to be socialising! It isn’t actually that uncomfortable once you are on the move. Get out of your comfort zone early! Now let’s have a look at the definition of luck surface area and why you should be serious about it for your own journey in life so that things also come your way:

“If there’s one thing I’ve discovered in recent years it’s this. The amount of serendipity that will occur in your life, your Luck Surface Area, is directly proportional to the degree to which you do something you’re passionate about combined with the total number of people to whom this is effectively communicated. It’s a simple concept, but an extremely powerful one because what it implies is that you can directly control the amount of luck you receive. In other words, you make your own luck.


Here’s how it works. When you pour energy into a passion, you develop an expertise and an expertise of any kind is valuable. But quite often that value can actually be magnified by the number of people who are made aware of it. The reason is that when people become aware of your expertise, some percentage of them will take action to capture that value, but quite often it will be in a way you would never have predicted. Maybe they’ll want to hire you, or partner with you, or invest in you, or who knows what. But in whatever way it happens, it will be serendipitous”.
by Jason Roberts


If you want
greater luck surface area, you need to relax your rules for how you engage with the world. For example, you might put yourself in more familiar situations: instead of spending the bulk of your time in your house or office, you might socialise more or take a class. As a result, you will make your own luck by meeting more people and finding more opportunities. Thinking of the butterfly effect, you are increasing your chances of influencing a tornado, such as forming a new partnership that ultimately blossoms into a large, positive outcome. From the book of “Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg & Lauren McCann

Sometimes when getting to know someone, having interesting chats, it strikes me that I could work on an interesting topic with that person – where I then make the suggestion. Let’s work on a topic for the blog? I’ve come to many interesting crossroads that led to observations being made when making this proposal – observations because the idea of a goal was in many instances not achieved and then I pondered on the why’s and what might have led to the non achievement. By the way that said, you will see in the blog big projects that have reached completion such as the interview with the team of Boardroom Banter and Onyedika Atuchukwu on projects covering topics such as the basics of electricity & solar energy in Mauritius. I wanted to stress out something regarding those beautiful ideas that have not yet seen the light – it will also be a good instructive allegory for the young scholar. A vast majority of people will enthusiastically say YES! when proposed with a beautiful idea of collaborating on a project for the blog. Then somehow when it comes to actually making the effort, engaging into the grind, getting going, many give up, some will make it half way through, and then give up in the middle. And then there are those who make it till the end. It is not that difficult, yet, I have noticed, even for high achievers, if there are certain basic principles missing on how to manage their lives, they might not make it to the end. There are also sometimes other underlying issues. One of the biggies is PRIDE. A friend of mine in Germany used to say, “Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall” which was a quote from the bible in Proverbs 16:18 (New International Version) Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

“What’s the meaning of the phrase Pride comes before a fall?

The proverbial saying pride comes before a fall is a warning that haughtiness and hubris leads to failure and loss.

Haughtiness: the appearance or quality of being arrogantly superior and disdainful. her air of haughtiness

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence. the self-assured hubris among economists was shaken in the late 1980s

Could I say that from such observations, it’s like an indicator for life lessons? If you can complete a project, will it equate to that you will be able to handle bigger responsibility in your career ahead? It does sound logical right? The same allegory can be made about your ambition to study, it is a big project on which you will be working, getting there and completing it. That journey will depend a lot on you as well, how you make the best of it!

From my personal observations, those that make it till the end, on collaborative projects that I have published in this blog, have a series of skills that gets them there. Skills that I do not have to teach them, because if I did, it would mean there is still so much more they would have to learn, too time consuming then to get to the goal. Skills I would say are the mere basics one should have, like the notion of time management, sticking to schedule, communicating in a concise, direct, clear manner on point, etc. So what I have noticed, when certain persons with whom I have embarked on a project do not possess these skills, the projects tend to fail.
I do not vet for these traits as I estimate, in these cases, speaking of students, that it should be a given – to my surprise it is not. So, this goes to say, if you are a student reading here, hone these traits, characteristics, mental models at an early stage. And keep your pride in check! It is better to be a humble scholar with an open mind! At high school level, even before you go to university this will greatly help you in your professional journey. Learn how to manage your time and productivity properly! I brought this up as this has been part of the journey relating to this project of studying in Mauritius and Africa in general. Lessons shared go hand in hand with the journey of learning that is also a lifelong endeavor.

The stage has now been set.

Let’s begin the story with why Julia Gihozo who comes from Rwanda has decided to pursue her tertiary education in Mauritius.

Why I decided to study in Mauritius by Julia Gihozo

Siloi.NET-Julia Gihozo-4-Why I decided to study in Mauritius Project - Contribute to social causes

Who should give the underprivileged a fair chance in society?

My mission is: “To contribute to social justice causes of equity, capacity building, participation, and human rights so as to fuel societal growth and inclusion.”

Current sociologist and future climate change activist. A senior Social Sciences student at the African Leadership College with dreams to advocate for marginalized communities, protect the environment and uphold the Sustainable Development Goals. From a pool of experience working with international youth leadership programs, to working with the local governance ministry, my interests have solidified around social protection issues, and development strategies for marginalized communities in emerging economies through empowering human welfare and social reforms.

Julia Gihozo

Hello Julia! Let’s begin with the story of your journey that led you to study in Mauritius at the African Leadership College.

1. When you were still in high school in Rwanda, when it comes to ambition, what were some of your future dreams? How did you envision what would follow after you complete high school?

Growing up, I was always overwhelmed by change. Changing from this house to that house due to rent increases, which resulted in a change in schools. Most depressingly, changing friends and the overall environment. I didn’t want to commit to anyone or anything because I was afraid they’d be another part of me I’d left behind the next morning. To be honest, I felt like I had abandoned so many parts of myself that I couldn’t bear it any longer. So I sought refuge and solace in my small family, my mother and sister. With everything around me conspiring against me and my family struggling to get through the next day, I knew I had to break out of my shell and strive for something better.

In 2015, I enrolled with the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, an organization that helps Rwanda’s most vulnerable orphans reestablish their rhythm of life. My emotions were all jumbled when I arrived. Worry prompted by another change, a little nervousness, and a dash of excitement. A community of thousands who, with a simple smile and a “Good morning,” brought me therapy.

Hope for Rwanda’s Future 24 Years After Genocide

I was trying to figure out who I was, what I liked and disliked. Finally, I settled on Girl Up, Debate, and English Class teaching. I felt important while advocating for the rights of girls and women. I grew as a result of speaking out and challenging the status quo, and I gave back to the community by passing on my knowledge to a younger class. Academically, I chose English, French, Kinyarwanda, and Kiswahili literature, as well as Entrepreneurship and Information Technologies, General Studies, and Communication Skills. It was through the discussions that took place in this environment that I had created for myself that I discovered my passion for improving the lives of others. At that moment in time, it was just that. My vision, however, was to explore what that entails and how I can use my passion for social protection to make a difference in the community while also putting food on my mother’s table. That is exactly what I am doing now as a Social Sciences student.

Girl Up Documentary

2. Can you describe to us a bit how high schools in Rwanda are structured? In Mauritius we have various types of high schools, we have those run by the government, private high schools that are either english speaking or french, high schools with a religious affiliation and usually boys and girls separate like the Loretto convent high school is girls only and then high schools like St Esprit are boys only. We do not have boarding high schools in Mauritius, which I noticed is quite common in Kenya – is that also so in Rwanda. The curriculum’s of high schools in Mauritius vary from options such as doing the English certified courses like Cambridge, Igcse, international certification like the Baccalaureat and more.

Rwanda has the exact same structure. Only that boarding schools are quite common in high school. For example, after 6 years of primary school in a gender-mixed school (both girls and boys), I transferred to a catholic school run by nuns after passing the National Examination that determines whether a student is ready for high school. Although my school was again gender-mixed, most of these schools are gender-exclusive, with nuns running the girls’ and fathers/priests running the boys’.

The current national education system requires that the curriculum for government and public schools be delivered in English, though this may not be the case for international and private schools. After political impasses with the French government, this change occurred in 2008. Previously, the education system was in French. The Ministry of Education is currently reintegrating French into the regular system alongside English and Swahili as African Union and East African Community recognized languages.

Rwandans study for 15 years before being eligible to attend university. Nursery: three years (ages four to six), primary: six years (7 – 12). 3 years of ordinary high school (Age: 13-15), 3 years of advanced high school (16 – 18). During this time, students in the final year of primary, ordinary, and high school must take national examinations prepared by the Rwanda Education Board in order to advance to the next stage.

3. It is now a normal assumption or a given here in Mauritius that most students who will finish high school consider the next step to be going to a tertiary institution and get a Bachelor degree. Some will go abroad to study like you did. Some will study in Mauritius as there are many options to choose locally. If we go back in time a few decades, when students finished high school, most of these students would then enroll into the workforce and only a few would study and only those that could afford it or were awarded a stipend would then study abroad. The government has a programme in place where it finances the studies of the brightest students. This goes to say that Mauritius has various tough competing mechanisms in place to filter out who these top performers are and which will then benefit from financial support to engage into tertiary education at globally renowned institutions. The idea of course is that these students should come back to Mauritius with their skills so that the country can benefit. It was a smart move that began several decades ago. What is it like in high school in Rwanda? Is it similar to Mauritius – that is, do most scholars consider going to a college or university once they finish high school? Or is it still a big variable and most will then start enrolling in the local workforce? What about studying abroad? Do many go that route or is it for most financially not viable?

In general, a large percentage of students who graduate from high school with good grades expect to continue their education abroad. I suppose this stems from a legitimate belief that the international education system outperforms the local one. However, the reality that not everyone will be admitted or have the financial means plays a significant role in who follows through on the previous wish. The government provides student loans to a large number of students who qualify for local public universities, and they provide governmental/presidential scholarships to a few outstanding students to study abroad with the expectation that they will return and serve their communities in Rwanda.

Those who did not receive either of the aforementioned will seek/create employment opportunities in order to support themselves and their families.

Siloi.NET-Julia Gihozo-3-Why I decided to study in Mauritius Project - Do what you enjoy doing and build academic and employment opportunities around it

4. When I was at high school, I only started reflecting on tertiary education at the end of my high school journey, that is in Mauritius we call those the lower 6 and upper 6 grades (we do 6 years primary and then 7 years high school – the french will have a different setup). In those days there was no online learning and not that much information to be found on the internet about the universities – you would have to request their brochures via post. Universities from abroad started to advertise their courses to us at high school. I soon realised it was a business. There were several things I was clueless about, first I had no idea what I wanted to study, then I had no idea where, and then the idea of going abroad, alone, to an unknown place at a big institution with thousands of other students left me with a feeling of uncertainty. On top while discussing with other friends about our indecisive uncertainties some would share their paranoia that in those locations there are a lot of issues like drugs etc. The idea then of leaving our Mauritius cocoon felt even more fearful. Fear, uncertainty and doubt! I believe many students go through this process, not to forget there are the parents who will often have a big say on this whole decision process. How was it for you? When did you start thinking about university in high school? How was the process? Like how did you find out about it and what were your first impressions?

I knew I wanted to go to university since I was a child. I recall seeing one of my cousins who went to school in another country, the reputation she had in the family, and how we were all taught to look up to her and strive to be like her. So I desired it for myself. I had no idea how or where to begin. However, during my A’level, my school had a career development center where they guided us through the entire process. I began researching schools in my senior year and began applying shortly after graduation. I used Common App, a single online college application form used by over 900 colleges and universities, and applied to so many universities at once. My first impression was of how complicated the system was, especially since I had to apply for application fee waivers and financial aid on top of that because my family could not financially support me.

5. After the idea of the concept of colleges, universities and tertiary education found its way in your head, did you already have an idea what you wanted to study, why, and where?

My college application was submitted in 2020. Initially, I planned to do my best and travel to the United States of America, but after the intense #BlackLivesMatter campaign at the time, as well as the uncertainty of the pandemic, I was skeptical. So I broadened my search and began looking elsewhere. I wanted to get out of Rwanda, where I had spent my entire life, but also to stay close to the African culture I was familiar with.

6. What was your process of figuring out where you want to study? Did you have a systematic approach? How did you find out about ALC and what led you into selecting this college located in Mauritius? What did you think of the location of Mauritius before coming here? If you can highlight to us also how people in Rwanda view Mauritius, what kind of image do they have in their mind?

I’d heard of the African Leadership University through their visits to my former high school and other friends of mine who attended the university, so it was on my radar. I looked at their campuses and was drawn to the one in Mauritius. Mauritius pictures on Google even added to my sending in the application early . I wanted to major in Social Sciences to pursue my interest in social protection, which is how the journey of a Rwandan young lady on an island began. Given that Rwanda is a landlocked country, the idea of living on an island captivated me, and I had heard a lot about the stunning beauty of “ile Maurice.” Apart from me, Rwandans admire Mauritius for its beauty, but especially for its ability to become a tourist destination, which Rwanda aspires to be because, according to the World Bank 2020 report, Rwanda is Africa’s second most popular tourist destination after Mauritius.

Discover the cleanest city in Africa with Unapologetic Nomads in Kigali
This is the most beautiful & cultural town in Africa

Every conversation I have with Rwandans revolves around how the #VisitRwanda campaign can be improved to compete with Mauritius.

What was the process of enrolment like with ALC?

I received email notification when their application opened, because I had subscribed to their newsletter, and I kickstarted my application. I started with a personality/IQ test that determined whether I was fit as “An african leader” as is the institution’s vision. Then progressed to the application where I filled in the personal details and worked on essay questions. I passed and applied for financial aid by submitting various financial documents and answering some essay questions to give them an idea of how needy I was because it was rolling on a limited, in-need, basis. Visa application came next, and I boarded that charter flight (because it was during the COVID-19  lockdown period and Mauritius was still closed for travels)

How much does a full study programme of a Bachelor cost at ALC?

Around 3000 USD per year.

What are the options for scholarships?

Currently there are two types of scholarships: The Mastercard Foundation Scholarship which is the most common and the Patoranking scholarship. Both scholarships cater closely to similar needs except that the MCF scholars get a monthly stipend and the Patoranking do not as per the terms of their contracts. The Mauritian government also gives some partial grants, I am not sure about how much exactly but hypothetically 5000 USD for the whole degree program, to fee paying students. 

I also noticed that Students fly to different countries for their internships or get to home to see their families, are the flight transportation costs also covered by the scholarships?

The annual flight tickets to your home country are covered by the scholarships and negotiations can be made when you get an internship somewhere else. Like rerouting your ticket to that country instead of home.

Can you also tell us a bit about the demographics at your Mauritius campus? From which countries mainly do the students come from and do you also have Mauritian students?

There are students from all parts of the African continent, The West, the East, North, and South. The majority, especially in my cohort are from Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, and Nigeria. There are also Mauritian students, who I envy by their ability to speak Creole haha, however, their number is quite few and I always wonder why since this is their country?

Is it difficult to get a place as a student at ALC? Is the competition high and they only pick the best students? Would you say it is an elite tertiary education institution?

African Leadership Group was ranked first in Africa among 50 companies. Globally at position 39 in the most innovative company by first company. Getting enrolled in ALC is very competitive since the institution is still a start-up, there are not so many spots to give out. This is even more apparent in Mauritius because the campus is small and can only accommodate around 500 students. The biggest hurdle is securing a scholarship. It’s nickname is ‘The Harvard of Africa.’

“My definition of wisdom is knowing the long-term consequences of your actions.”

By Naval Ravikant @naval on twitter

7. What is the tertiary education sector like in Rwanda? Is it free for locals? In Mauritius you have the state run university that is partly for free for locals and then private universities that are not for free. Do you have many students and professors that come from abroad to work and study in the tertiary education sector of Rwanda?

Tertiary education is not provided for free. However, the government and other international organizations offer numerous grants and student loans to students. The number of international students and professors has increased in the last decade or so, as more international and regional schools, such as ALU, CMU, UGHE, and others, have opened in Rwanda. Normally, government bachelor’s programs may cost between 200-400 USD per semester, whereas international bachelor’s programs may range anywhere between 3000-5000 USD.

8. What advice do you have for other students and high school leavers on how to find out what to study, why to study and where to study? What helped you and what would you have done differently in hindsight? Like did you have a particular methodological approach? Mentors? And what do you think could also be helpful for other students going through this process of figuring out what to study and how to make a choice?

My advice is to take things one day at a time. Do not put pressure on yourself to have everything figured out, especially in the beginning. I also have my doubts about where the social sciences will be in this fast-paced FinTech era. Determine your area of interest and pursue a degree in that field. Talk to people who are pursuing what you are pursuing or employed where you want to end up to clear your doubts and get an idea of what you will be studying/working and whether it matches your passion. It will help guide you. I knew I was passionate about community empowerment and vulnerable groups in society, so I chose Social Sciences as my major so that I could be exposed to political studies, governance, sociology, criminology, and economics.

“Success leaves clues. People who succeed at the highest level are doing something differently than everyone else does.”

By Tony Robbins @tonyrobbins on twitter

9. On the matter of making the right choice or pivoting into another academic discipline. Choosing to study for 4-5 years or more is a big decision. It comes at a cost, such as time: in the quantity of years, meaning you would want to make the right choice and have it at an optimum, something that will also benefit you. Some students go through those years as a sacrifice. They are either studying for their parents, like for e.g. a business degree while in reality they wanted to study something completely different but unacceptable to their parents. And then some while beginning to study, realise they absolutely do not like what they enrolled in, but will pull through falling into the trap of the sunk cost fallacy. Sunk cost fallacy means “the phenomenon whereby a person is reluctant to abandon a strategy or course of action because they have invested heavily in it, even when it is clear that abandonment would be more beneficial.”the sunk-cost fallacy creeps into a lot of major financial decisions””. What are your thoughts on this?

This is completely correct. It happens frequently, especially among our generation, which wants to fulfill our parents’ desires or study things that are currently available on the job market. But we forget that our parents may be gone in a decade, or the economy’s course may change, shifting the forces of demand and supply. So do what you enjoy doing and build academic and employment opportunities around it. Do you enjoy reading stories? You have the potential to excel as a marketer or content creator. Is sewing your hobby? You can become a talented fashion designer who creates clothes that leave us dumbstruck. We can’t all be engineers, after all!

Siloi.NET-Julia Gihozo-5-Why I decided to study in Mauritius Project - bring your own piece to the puzzle

10. Now that we have addressed the processes that you went through on figuring out what to study and where, how has your experience been so far as a student in Mauritius at ALC? Can you also share your story what the journey was like during the covid lockdowns era into making it to Mauritius? I read back then that ALC had chartered an airplane to bring all the students from the continent to Mauritius. This is some awesome logistics! What was it like for you, your first days on the island?

I boarded a flight to the island of Mauritius in the midst of a pandemic, full of hopes and expectations. When I say expectations, I mean a lot of them. I dreaded the 14-day quarantine in the Ravenala attitude because the inquisitive me wanted to get out and start living. The temperature was high and humid. The people were extremely friendly and accommodating, and the hotel cuisine was quite different from what I was used to. Nonetheless, I can’t even begin to express how excited I was.

I had no idea Lockdown was just around the corner. Come  March, I haven’t seen my facilitators in person ever since. I miss them, as well as the overall vibe and atmosphere of the classroom. But it wasn’t all bad; the convenience of attending classes wherever I wanted, which for me was mostly in bed taking notes and being serious, was also greatly appreciated. It has taught us that whatever we can go through, we can get through. Together!

Being a student in Mauritius means that you will stand out in any place. Marketplace check. Hospital, check. Church, check. I mean anywhere. You will frequently be asked, “Where in Africa are you from?” or “What about South Africa?” Then you’ll have to explain where you’re from, where you’re studying, and how you discovered Mauritius. A nice, slow, and quiet chitchat with the Mauritians follows, and they will almost always welcome you in Mauritius. I say slow because it will be difficult to converse smoothly with the locals if you are from an English speaking background like me with limited French, given that the majority of them are French speakers. There is something new to do almost every day in Mauritius, whether it is sightseeing, participating in local festivities, or experiencing cultural shocks. From my first days on the island to the present… I still feel like there is a great portion of the island I haven’t cracked open, and I am coming for that oyster.

11. For how long have you been in Mauritius now? Did you get to know any Mauritians and experience cultural exchanges? Any interesting stories and observations that you made during this time? Comparisons? Like what’s it like at home and then different in Mauritius. Same goes for your student life – ALC has students that come from different countries, how has this dynamic been for you?

I arrived on the island on January 10, 2021, and I love the dynamism and diversity of Mauritius and ALC. There is always something new to learn and explore, whether it is cultural, political, moral, or simply personal. I’ve noticed how culturally distinct Mauritius is from Rwanda. Especially with the Hindu dominance that I had only seen in Bollywood films, it’s fascinating that I get to experience it firsthand. In terms of friendship, because I am introverted, it is difficult for me to form new friendships. This stems from the fact that I do not travel around the island very often because it can be quite expensive to do so privately, and I am concerned about taking public transportation to places I am unfamiliar with because I am not fluent in French and struggle to interact with locals/strangers. However, I am making progress. I have acquaintances, and I hope that we will become closer over time.

12. What are you up to currently? I know you are currently doing an internship in Rwanda which is part of your studies. I personally think doing various internships while studying in different fields can give one a better idea where one would like to work in the future. It also helps to network and build strategic contacts. It is not necessarily easy to get a job after completing a Bachelor degree. Contacts play an important role. Tell us more about your internship experience so far.

In Rwanda, I interned at the Ministry of Local Government. I reviewed social policies for efficiency, worked directly with local authorities, and handled citizen complaints while also attending to the needs of both ministers; the Minister of Local Government and the Minister of State in charge of Social Affairs. It was the most rewarding experience I’d ever had. Going to bed knowing that one person somewhere will have a better day because I advocated for their complaint or improved a policy that will benefit their lives. For 12 weeks, I worked on behalf of national causes such as equity, justice, protection, and transformation. It felt more like I was living for something other than myself.

What was something you found particularly challenging and what would you change or do differently if you were in a leadership position at such an organization?

If I was in a leadership position at that organization, I would work more on the organization culture as it seemed that they did not have any structure that newcomers can refer to. Like weekly newsletter for example to update each other about what was going on or people operations related like who gave birth etc. I would also indulge more opportunities for the employees to become tech advanced, from the basics like G-suite rather than microsoft docs only, since the majority of the workforce is generation X and find it quite difficult to adapt to technological changes and advancements.

13. Branding & Strategies and the use of Social Media for the Student. What would you recommend for students to voice out there and on which platforms and why?

Understand the strategic application of each platform and how it relates to your potential and purpose. For example, if you are interested in corporate work, LinkedIn may be the best place to gain exposure and connections, whereas Instagram may be more suited to your needs if you are into fashion. In any case, tell your story in an authentic way that will make people remember you as a person rather than just another statistic or scroll on their feed.

14. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

Professionally, I see myself working for international NGOs and/or government entities in 10 years to alleviate citizen needs and increase communal potential. Serving vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, refugees, and others.

On a much more personal level, I am family oriented and would like to start my own family while supporting the one I was born into. Family, friends, and my inner circle bring me a lot of joy, motivation, and fulfillment.

Beyond all else, I want to live life to the fullest. Travel frequently. Experiment with various cuisines. Set out on new cultural adventures. Take risks. Fail. Win. Learn. Discover and fulfill my purpose. Meet people and make new friends. Most importantly, be content. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience,” says one quote about life. (Unknown)

Siloi.NET-Julia Gihozo-6-Why I decided to study in Mauritius Project - passionate about community empowerment

15. How do you see the future of Mauritius? Where do you think the country is heading? What role can Mauritius play in the future of Africa? You can answer this subjectively from your own perspective. It will be great to read what the perspective of a young student from Rwanda studying in Mauritius is like, in comparison different age groups and walks of life will have a different take on this. So this will be interesting! It is quite easy in Mauritius to have a chat with people in random places on a pessimistic view of the island’s future. Something I observed during my childhood. Bring up a pessimistic theme on doom and suddenly people have a lot to talk about negatively, especially on politics. Sometimes the pessimism expressed sounds so bad that you would think the island is about to sink and it makes no sense to even bother about social mobility etc. Yet decade after decade the people of Mauritius have worked hard at improving the dynamic of the island as a whole and the results speak for themselves.

The Mauritius development strategy speaks for itself. They are empowering international businesses to boost the economy, as Ebene-Cybercity can attest. However, what has most impressed me during my two years on the island is the government’s willingness to invest in young people. There are numerous opportunities for young people to compete for awards and funding to invest in projects such as Turbine Incubator Mauritius. This extends beyond youth and into younger children, as they help them discover their potential while exposing them to technological advancements through various programs such as the Katapult Coding Competition, to name a few. Mauritius is bracing itself to ensure that its future, the future of this tiny but mighty island, is in the safest and capable hands.

16. Is Mauritius a great place for students from the African continent? Like does it give good reliable convincing trustworthy prestige degrees that can land you good job opportunities in the future or create the entrepreneurs of the future? Like is Mauritius a name, or a brand that is perceived positively?

My experience with this is quite contentious, given that I will be awarded a degree from Glasgow Caledonian University as a result of their collaboration with ALC. When I mentioned that I was studying in Mauritius, the audience raised an eyebrow. One of the reasons could be that people, particularly those I’ve met, don’t seem to understand that there’s more to Mauritius than business, retirement, and honeymoons. So, in comparison to other degrees from most African countries, I would say that Mauritius’ degree is of quite high quality.


There is the ALC (African Leadership College) and the ALU (African Leadership University), can you tell us what is the difference between these two? 

ALC has it’s campus in Mauritius and is partners with the Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK to accredit degrees on their behalf.
ALU operates it’s campus in Rwanda, where it is legally allowed and certified to give degrees.

ALC African Leadership Campus Mauritius - 2
ALC Mauritius
ALC African Leadership Campus Mauritius - 1
ALC Mauritius

Now that you are midway through your studies, how has your experience been so far at ALC (African Leadership College) in Mauritius? Do you find the course material for what you are studying, is it well organized and relevant? How do you see the future of ALC?

I am now in my final year. I’ll give that a moment or two to sink in. Lol! My studies have been nothing short of outstanding. The social sciences are concerned with human behavior and societal structures, as well as how they affect us collectively and individually. It’s fascinating to immerse myself in the concepts I learn in class and notice elements of them in real-life scenarios in my student/staff body. The learning materials can be overwhelming at times because all of the module leads provide us with a bunch of resources, don’t teachers everywhere, and taking 4+ modules can be challenging to ensure that you are up to speed with all of them. But, I’d like to think I’ve gotten the hang of it. I would describe ALC’s future as ‘all inclusive,’ because the institution is experimenting with having easily accessible hubs in different cities across the continent rather than having a single campus. This contributes significantly to African Leadership’s mission of developing 3 million ethical, entrepreneurial leaders by 2035.

How do you find the impact the African Leadership Group is having on the African continent for a young African population that aspires to study?

ALG gives them hope. That they, too, have the potential to be leaders and changemakers. They are driving this change through African-led resources and degrees, such as ALU’s new BA in Entrepreneurial Leadership. Even more so, they are disseminating this wealth of knowledge through hubs in the areas closest to them. There are currently 3+ newly inaugurated hubs where students will learn (Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, etc).

17. The pros and cons. What do/did you like and not like about studying in Mauritius? Any improvement suggestions? What kind of options do students have when coming to Mauritius? Options can be anything from is there a wide variety of subjects offered? Is the environment student friendly? Like is it easy for students to get access to accommodation, part time jobs, internships and leisure?

The advantages are undeniably the proximity to the beach and other beautiful places to visit. There are also numerous opportunities for students to connect through various parties that can provide a sense of home, even from afar, by listening to and dancing to a variety of Afro beats, ha ha!

The disadvantages: it is difficult to integrate into Mauritius’ culture, though this becomes easier because the people are so friendly and welcoming. The Mauritian rupee is an expensive currency that raises the cost of living for students (who cannot legally work more than 20 hours per week) and the majority of them rely on their families back home for money.

However, there are numerous good-paying jobs available, particularly for French speakers, both part-time and full-time, with flexibility.

Overall, it’s been an eye-opening experience full of growth and excitement. I would strongly recommend it.

18. When it comes to mental health, discipline, sports, health in general, time management, burn out, principles to make it etc. Something that is becoming more apparent is the more open discussion around mental health. While eating healthy and doing sports regularly has made it into mainstream, mental health was not addressed nor discussed when I was at high school neither in an academic environment. It was a tabu. If you needed to get psychological health counseling, it would and still does feel for many as something bad – like a bad stigma. So I would say it is only recently that it is more openly talked about and addressed with solutions such as having trained person’s who are well versed in these wellness areas accessible in an academic environment. By also informing and getting students to become aware early of the importance of mental health, it can also be preventive, meaning students can take precautions on their journey to avoid burning out or to tread carefully when they start entering burn out territory! Can you share with us your thoughts, experiences and options students have when it comes to mental health? Also any recommendations you wish to share are welcome.

Mental health is a topic that many people are becoming more aware of and willing to support. Unlike when I was growing up, expressing that you are mentally suffering while being well fed, dressed, and educated was frowned upon by society and my family. Slowly but steadily, as a community, we are beginning to understand that depression, anxiety, and other feelings are not related to a lack of materialistic things, but rather to an unfilled void on the inside. We have therapists at school who are available to help students even during term breaks, which is a good thing. It comes in handy when dealing with a large number of students, the majority of whom are navigating through life, school, jobs, adulthood, personal problems, and heartbreaks. “Do you,” is my advice. There is no correct or incorrect way to heal (Unless it is endangering of course in which case you should seek professional help ASAP). Follow your instincts. You may believe that you are not trying hard enough, but simply waking up and showing up is a huge accomplishment. One day at a time, take it all in. Everything will be fine. Simply stand your ground and put yourself first.

Julia Gihozo

Siloi.NET-Julia Gihozo-2-Why I decided to study in Mauritius Project - Major in Social Sciences by Julia Gihozo

Endnote

I am grateful for everything I have gone through because without the changes, challenges, and greatest pain, I would not have discovered my strength. These prepared me for life’s greatest adventures as the polar opposite of whatever force had previously drawn me down. When I fail, I tell myself, “I am not the failure; this situation is.” I’ll devote more time to preparation for the next time.” This gives me renewed zeal and readiness to face my fears head on and declare, “I am fearless.”

And whenever you feel stuck, remember that you cannot completely eliminate any problems, but you can bring your own piece to the puzzle, and I hope you are determined enough to do so

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