by Firdaws Hakizimana

So, it’s been a while. When I last wrote, I was stressing about college and sending an application to almost every college in Maine. Looking back now, that was ridiculous. I didn’t get into any of the private liberal arts colleges I applied to, but I did get into my top four schools. In the end, after a lot of stress and missing National Decision Day, my family decided that it would be best for me to go to University of Southern Maine for my undergraduate studies.

When I first started writing for Amjambo Africa, I was an awkward junior in high school who had lost an election. Now I’m still a very awkward teenager (but I’ve gotten really good at hiding my uncertainty by taking my time to think about the right response) who has voted in her first election and graduated from high school. During this time, I’ve lost friends, gained many more, and even reconnected with the ones I had originally lost. I can now write computer code in basic Python – which is one of my proudest achievements of this year – and I know how to properly use semicolons.

This school year was not what I or my fellow students expected. When I left school on March 13, I semi-knew it was very likely going to be my last day in the school for a while. My coding teacher had shown us the latest health graphs and was pointing out to us how horribly overwhelmed Italy was, and preparing us for being next. He asked if we all had a reliable laptop at home, since the website we were using for our class wasn’t compatible with the iPads the school had given us. So, that Friday, I carried a MacBook Air home with the heavy warning that breaking the device would cost me $300.

I’m both grateful and disappointed at how my senior year ended. No one I know has died from COVID-19, and I pray for it to stay that way. It’s been hard waking up for classes. Two months into the pandemic I hit that slump of “what even is the point of all of this” that most of my friends had hit after three weeks into remote learning. But I pushed past it because I remembered that I had been at this – working all school year long – really hard for almost four years, and I couldn’t call it quits then. So I pushed, and I can proudly say that it was well worth it.

My hope for the future is the same as everyone’s: hoping there is a vaccine that will be available soon to combat COVID-19. I would say that I want my life back, but the school year is already gone. I just want to move on, have a graduation, and hopefully get to invite some of my extended family to it, even if it’s just my uncle.