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A new home for the holidays

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Rwanda student makes move to Springfield

By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

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Sun Staff Writer

This Christmas is pretty much like previous Christmases for Ange Umulisa. She is used to decorating the Christmas tree and having strings of lights around the house. But this year, Christmas is different because she is not in her native country of Rwanda.

“(In Rwanda) we have the tree and the lights,” said Umulisa. “But there's no snow and it's not too cold, like here.”

Ange was attending school in Mississippi, but the school she attended did not offer basketball. When her cousin came to Springfield to attend St. Catharine College, she decided she wanted to move here, too. She has been living with her legal guardians, Jim and Pam Grundy, in Springfield for the past two months.

The Grundys have two grown children of their own, a son who lives in Florence and works in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a daughter who goes to medical school in Louisville.

The 16-year-old Umulisa is adjusting well to life in the United States.

"From the moment she got here, she fit right in," said Jim Grundy. “She's a good kid.”

"I like it here," said Umulisa. "I love my house, my school, my friends – everything."

The teenager loves to shop, has developed a fondness for McDonald's, and has discovered a new favorite food – macaroni and cheese. She's also excited about painting her room pink.

She said school is easier here than in Rwanda, where she stayed in a dorm with other students. School started at 8 a.m. until a break for dinner at 5 p.m., then continue after dinner until 8 or 9 p.m. She considers the 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule in Washington County easier.

Her favorite subject is French. In fact, she is quite fluent in French, having studied it for several years. Her toughest subject is math, where geometry is giving her some trouble. But her friends and teammates on the Commanderette basketball team have been helping her.

The thing Ange misses most about Rwanda is her family and friends, but she keeps in touch with everyone back home on the computer.

Her plans after high school include college, where she hopes to study law or work in the justice field. Or she'll be a model. But it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind, and now that she's in the land of opportunity, Ange is sure to be a success at whatever she chooses.