My name is Ornella Umubyeyi. I am 18 years old. I am from Rwanda in central Africa. I am the second eldest of six children. I grew up without knowing who I was and what I was fighting for. Our classes back home had 28 students and I always sat in the back and nobody cared whether I was there or not, or even what I did. I never thought I was special or even smart, because I never had a chance to prove and express myself. I came to America last year and it was exciting because it was my first time being out of Africa. I was worried, however, about my poor English and if I would be able to express myself. Coming to America was a big challenge for me and my family because I was coming into a very different world and it was hard for my parents to let me go far away. I learned a lot about differences between cultures, and I started to become more open at my school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, in Massachusetts. Teachers made me speak; students asked me questions when they didn’t understand. I started to feel trust and appreciation for who I was. I started to played sports and I found out that I enjoyed playing soccer and running cross-country, and that I had potential in basketball and tennis. I started to talk, to argue sometimes, and then I joined the debate team and the community service club. I decided that the clubs might help my country and offer opportunities to help different places around the world. My school and an other school, NMH (Northfield Mount Hermon School) organized a fundraiser for orphans in Rwanda affected with HIV/AIDS in school and in the community. At the end of four weeks, we had raised more than $26,000. When I went back home this summer, I had the privilege of making a video documentary about young orphans in Rwanda. I had the chance to zoom in on their lives and find out how they will make use of the collected money from charities to better themselves. In my documentary, I focused on the problems they are facing and how my school and the organization that we sponsored in Rwanda will continue working together. While there, I volunteered to help at the hospital and visited the “Peace and Love Proclaimers” organization that is fighting for peace and love between Rwandese, which I am the ambassador for. In that organization, we assist under privileged people and orphaned kids who are unable to go to school. When I came back with the documentary from Rwanda and presented it to my school. Everyone at my school was moved by seeing kids thanking them and at the same time my community understood how important education is. In Franklin County where my school is located, I received a “Peace Maker” award, for what I did in Rwanda and I received the “Citizen of the Week” award for the same cause from my school as well. My school has offered me many experiences to find myself and express my leadership skills. As a Blue Key Member my duty is to tour and welcome prospective families to inform them about my school and about my experiences, as a student from Africa in the United States. As an International Proctor, Community Service Leader, and Peer Tutor, I enjoy helping and interacting with students daily. Every Thursday during school assembly I take pleasure in bringing international news to share amongst the community to keep them updated about the world around us. I am a Study Hall Proctor where I supervise students during their studies, and an RA (Resident Assistant), where I help residents in the dorms to make sure students are doing well in everyday life at school. I want to change the world because I am aware of the situation in Rwanda and I want to be one of the few young girls to step up to the plate and tackle the issue. I am trying to get people to become conscious of the other issues happening in the world. I am a strong believer in making a difference. If I put my mind to something I believe I can accomplish anything. I am a person who cares about my community and I want to make a difference for the better. I always know what I want to do and I am not afraid to make changes no matter what or where. I want to change the world to better others. Also it is truly something I want to do, not because I am being forced. No matter what, I will speak for those whose voices can’t be heard; I will die trying to make this world better, especially for the women who are fighting for better days to come. Three-quarters of all Africans women between the ages of 15 and 24 years old are HIV-positive. They need education, protection from violence, and access to care and treatment. The world’s involvement with women living with HIV/AIDS is vital for success. The effort to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS on women must also engage men and boys to have a better understanding of how they contribute to the problem. The perception that strangers from other countries will come to save African women is wrong. African women have been fighting for their rights for many years. My vision for the future is to continue helping women in Rwanda and orphans with AIDS. I believe that educating a woman is educating a society. I wish to see reconciliation between Rwandese after the genocide of 1994. I embrace this vision because I want to make a difference in the humanity of all the women in Rwanda. I hope to become a psychologist one day so I can give back to the children and women of Rwanda by helping them deal with the effects of the genocide. This will fulfill my dream of making a difference in a country I love and the people who have a special place in my heart.