Burundi student explains culture differences

Keza Mireille, general studies major. (Cary Crocker | Reporter)

Keza Mireille, general studies major. (Cary Crocker | Reporter)

Cary Crocker

Q&A: Keza Mireille

Keza Mireille, a Neosho student from Burundi, tells about her experiences living in America and the differences between her country and the United States, as well as her interests and goals.

Where are you from?
I’m from Africa: Burundi.

What is your native language?
Kirundi, but besides that, I speak other languages, like Swahili and French.

Is Kirundi anything like Swahili?
No, it’s very different.

Did you have to learn English to come here?
No. I knew some basic English from school, but I couldn’t have a conversation in it. Because of the ELI (English Language Institute) program, I could learn it here.

Where is Burundi, exactly?
It’s in east Africa, surrounded by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and Congo (DRC) to the south and west.

What is your favorite tradition from Burundi?
Marriage, because it’s a big deal in my country. The groom’s family meets the bride’s family, and then they have an engagement ceremony. Then they have the wedding, and then the next day they have a celebration like a shower.

Do you have any family in the United States?
Yes, my sister’s here now. She’s been here since the spring.

How do you keep in touch with your family while you’re here?
We talk on the phone to my parents, and use Facebook, Whatsapp, and Viber to talk to my sister and brother.

What are some differences you’ve noticed between Burundi and the United States?
The weather, because it’s always like spring and summer there. We don’t have snow there. Also, it rains a lot there at the end of March and December. Also, the concept of time is different. For example, if you are invited to a birthday party at 6, it’s okay to show up at 7, but you still have to be on time for a job or school. And there’s a lot of diversity here and a lot of talk about freedom.

What are a couple similarities between the two countries?
There’s a high number of Christians in both countries, but there are other religions. Also, some of the holidays are the same, like Christmas.

What do you like about living here in the United States?
Being able to speak another language, and to discover another culture.

What do you dislike about living here?
Winter. I don’t even like to talk during winter.

Do you plan to live in the United States permanently?
I agree that it’s a good place to live, but I don’t know yet.

What are your hobbies?
I like to read books a lot and crochet.

What’s your major?
General studies, but I want it to be social work.

What made you decide on your major?
I like to encourage people, and I want to work with vulnerable people.

Where did you first hear about Crowder, and how did you decide to come here?
One of my friends who knew about the school.

How long have you studied here?
Two years.

How much longer are you going to be here?
Next spring?

What are your goals for the future?
To finish at Crowder and transfer for my bachelor’s degree. I don’t know where yet.