By Leanndra W. Padgett
Georges (the s is silent) Nzabanita is an exceptional senior. He is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been studying for years in preparation to improve his country. He has a philosophy degree from Tangaza College, a constituent college of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.
After getting his first degree, Georges worked for Doctors Without Borders. During this time, he met an American who would go on to help him achieve higher education in the area of peace studies for sustainable development. This sponsor suggested that Georges attend Georgetown College before continuing on for a master’s degree.
Georges looked GC up online and, from his first view of Giddings, thought that it was beautiful. “I was really attracted to Georgetown College,” he says. He applied in 2011, and began his studies in Kentucky in August of 2012. He will complete his sociology degree this December, after only three semesters and one summer’s worth of study.
After graduating, Georges will return to his home country where he has a wife and young daughter. After a time back home, he hopes to attend graduate school at Loyola University in Chicago. His eventual goal is to “work for the United Nations or any other human rights organization for a couple of years to get experience in conflict resolution and other social issues,” he says. He wants to “try to get the Congolese involved in peace building for sustainable development.”
On campus, Georges is actively involved in social justice initiatives that support his long term goals. He participates in the One Campaign, a group “fighting the absurdity of extreme poverty” (onecampaign.org). He is also the acting coordinator for the Conflict Free Campus Initiative, a movement that he began this semester. This group “draws on the power of student leadership and activism to bring about peace in Congo. By encouraging university officials and stakeholders, both of whom are large purchasers of electronics and powerful spokespersons, to commit to measures that pressure electronics companies to responsibly invest in Congo’s minerals sector, students are voicing the demand for conflict-free products from Congo” (raisehopeforcongo.org).
The innumerable differences between Congo and Kentucky made the adjustment difficult for Georges at first, but he says that the friends he quickly made helped with the transition. Now he looks back on his time at GC as the happiest of his college days so far.
Georges says that the weather in Kentucky was one of the hardest things to get used to, explaining that Congo has a smaller range of temperatures and never gets cold enough for sweaters or coats.
Another surprise that America brought him was the dancing. At “my first party, the dancing was a cultural shock for me,” Georges says with a smile. He then laughs and admits that “I like dancing like an American!”
Georges is a man of many experiences within different cultures (he speaks six languages). Considering all of his travels, he says that “I think GC is a great place to be. It is a great environment academically. It has a great, loving committed faculty. Especially the department of sociology is very awesome. The students themselves are my best friends. I could not have adapted personally without them.” Georges’s contagious laugh and passion for justice will be missed when he graduates at the end of this semester.