Congratulations to SNHU GEM students Joseph Pal Char and Rene Ndayambaje!
Southern New Hampshire University’s Global Education Movement (SNHU GEM) recently held its inaugural student poetry contest, which offered our students a chance to creatively reflect on and share their life experiences on the in a response to one of five prompts:
- The importance of positive thinking
- The person who changed my life
- The moment you realized you were beautiful
- Someone who helped you set a goal
- A moment that made you a better person
In response, SNHU GEM learners shared heartfelt poems about their love for their families, their difficult experiences as refugees, their impressive educational journeys, and so much more. It was a difficult decision, but our panel of judges selected two winning poems from the many submitted entries.
Congratulations to the winners of our 2023 SNHU GEM poetry contest: Joseph Pal Char and Rene Ndayambaje!
Joseph Pal Char is a South Sudanese refugee pursuing his associate degree in general sciences at SNHU GEM and Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). After living in Kakuma refugee camp for more than two decades, Joseph leapt at the opportunity to continue his education with SNHU GEM and JRS Kenya. Joseph is proudest of his work as a medical
assistant in the Amusait General Hospital in Kakuma and other positions assisting in hospitals. He plans to continue his education with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management and pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
When writing his poem, Joseph drew inspiration from his personal life, work experience, and the realities of life as a refugee. “I was inspired to tell the story of the 185,000 refugees in Kakuma camp and the rest around the globe. To tell the story of how we lose everything, our home, our comfort and seek refuge in new countries. To tell the story of those that have had to break loose from cultural norms that hold them back,” said Joseph. “Now we find a good thing, education, that changes us, our society, and our country at large. I wanted to tell these stories and my story through this poem.”
A Moment That Made Me A Better Person
By Joseph Pal Char
Amidst teak and mahogany forests,
Lies our mud-hut, beautiful and small,
Next to the house is cattle-shed,
Millions sing every morning call.
Born in no education,
Farm and adventure we go,
Swimming and herding,
That was the definition of fun.
In realms of dreams, where life takes form,
Duty whisper beckons, cultural norm,
Born to be a soldier, born to be a man,
Adulthood calls, at the age of five.
Amidst duty calls, lies tears behind,
Dreams go away, life is left behind,
We lose folks, we lose homes,
Poverty and hunger knock, doors wide opened.
We flee to new homes, in lands uncharted and free,
Greeted by script and quill, we burry arrows and pistol-tees,
We script our fate each day, art of change swifts’ sweet range,
Highest amongst the class, keen and meek in school domain.
Years flew, pals withdrew,
We chased the paper, crafting the paper,
Out where it’s real, dressed to appeal,
Fighting for generations to come, as millions stay numb.
It cradled me, found me a new home,
I gaze above and think, Is that me?
Smiles as I climb, progress I undertake,
With pen at hand, I was a better person.
Rene Ndayambaje is a Congolese refugee living in Rwanda, pursuing his associate degree in general sciences at SNHU GEM and Kepler Kigali. Born into a family of eight children led by a single mother, Rene was inspired to submit a poem about his mother’s strength. “Growing up, I only saw my mother taking care of us, as our father had already ended his life journey. In all that we passed through, she was with us, playing both roles,” he explained.
Rene was also motivated by his own academic journey: As a high school student attending Hope School, a small institution started by a refugee, he was grateful to the institution for stepping in after their students were denied the right to sit for the national exam, and guiding them to become high school graduates. “All of this made me think of the journey that inspired me to craft this poem,” said Rene.
The Person Who Has Changed My Life
By Rene Ndayambaje
In a family of eight, we thrived
our mother’s guide, strength inside
father’s absence cast a shadow wide
yet mother’s love a relentless tide.
Financial struggle gripped our days
but her spirit, held steadfast always
through hardships in countless ways
she nourished us with hope’s bright rays
From a refugee camp’s uncertain start
education kindles dreams within my heart
o level’s door seemed to be locked apart
but hope school ignite a fresh start
Senior six’s exam summit we pursued
obstacles tested; our will renewed
amidst challenges that once subdued
young gents suffer for brotherhood
A mother’s son, the path was tough
yet dreams and goals, we held enough
till impact hope revealed its stuff
turning impossible into good enough
Graduation’s triumph, a testament true
impact hope’s light guided us through
hand in hand, we overcame and grew
black ship’s steep journey, hope a new
With mother’s love and god’s embrace
we stand resilient in life’s grand race
proudly moving to our destined place
as stars in the sky, our dreams we chase.
Giving back still a melody to chill
lacking support is never thing to feel
your bare hands serve a perfect meal
This thanks, will forever stand still.