Congratulations and Welcome!

A letter from Maurice Sayinzoga, GHD'17

I was in a meeting outside the city of Kigali, Rwanda, when I received an email from Georgetown. Georgetown was my top choice and I had been waiting to hear back from my application for admission in the Global Human Development program.  I frantically pulled my phone closer to my face, screening for clues as to whether the message was bearing good news.

I felt a burst of joy the moment I read the word “congratulations” which was strategically placed in the subject line! This email marked the beginning of what was going to be a great learning experience in my life.  If you too have received an invitation to come to the Global Human Development Program, then congratulations and welcome!

Along with joy, you might be feeling overwhelmed at what appears to be a long list of action items to make studying in the United States a reality. What about financing, housing, and vaccinations?  Here are a few points of advice I would give admitted students as they prepare to move to Georgetown:

  • Take one step at a time! You will obviously have questions, big and small. Moving to a new country can be a stress inducing experience. The key is to prioritize and take each step at a time.
  • Don’t panic! It’s been done before! The School of Foreign Service has been receiving international students for decades. I cannot overemphasize how helpful the GHD staff and the Office of Global Services (OGS) staff have been. Ask any questions you have, they will guide you to the correct resource.
  • Be independent! You can find pretty much anything online, from apartments to pizzas. Mobile apps and websites will become your best friends. This is particularly important, if you come from a place where in-person transactions are predominant. So, you do not have to know a guy who knows a guy to get by!
  • Prepare to be challenged! Academic requirements are rigorous and things move fast here, but don’t worry! You will have the support of faculty, staff, and your peers. Over time you will sharpen your study habits, and we are always working on homework assignments together in the lounge.
  • Learn from your peers! Your classmates will have a lot to share. They come with a diverse range of experience working both in the US and abroad. Learn from their experiences and their work habits, particularly in areas where you may be struggling!
  • Be engaged! So, don’t be shy - ask questions, schedule time to speak with your faculty advisor, and be proactive in reaching out to professors or other faculty who you wish to learn from.  GHD brings in many speakers who are top of their class in international development, and will help you facilitate guest lectures of your choosing.
  • Be social! It can be lonely to live far away from home. You will miss your friends and your family, but you will find a new home at the Hilltop! The prospect of moving to a new country and living with new people may make you nervous, but remember your closest friends were once strangers! You will have so many opportunities to get to know your classmates, such as  the Bonding Trip, the Ethics Retreat, and GHD’s social lunches and dinners.  Outside of GHD, step out of your comfort zone, go to happy hours, go watch a Hoyas basketball game or a Nationals baseball game (you may come to appreciate how much American culture has to do with sports).
  • Enjoy every moment! Before you know it, you will be shopping for a graduation gown (just like I did this morning)! Take advantage of the vast resources, events, and network opportunities that Georgetown and Washington, DC have to offer. There is no better place to learn international affairs than Georgetown!