“l am sorry Mr. Munashe, but boarding is closed, and no additional passengers will be allowed on the flight.” The very weight of those words gave me a cold realization, it finally sank in-l had missed my flight to America. l was soon to discover that l was not going to be refunded even though I had experienced a medical emergency earlier that day, hence my delay arriving at the airport. Never mind the fact that l had been preparing for this journey for the past eight months, or the fact that l had put in a lot of resources to make it all possible; I stood by the ticket counter worried that the start of my education at Warren Wilson College had just been thrown down the drain.
With the help of Amai Mano, my USAP mother, l was able to get onto the next flight to North Carolina and that is how my adventures began. For the first time in my life, I felt important as l whizzed past people in a bid to find my seat in the lucrative B767-300ER operated by Ethiopian Airlines. Couple of hours into the flight, l was to be disappointed when I ordered loads of tomato juice only to end up getting sick. Upon arrival into Atlanta, Georgia my first port of entry, l was in awe at the size of the airport and all it had to offer. l was finally in the U.S, a dream that took me 3 years to achieve.
My first days on campus were some of the best days in my life. On some days I would get up early to go on morning hikes, enjoy the mid-day swims in the Swannanoa River that runs past our campus, or have late-night talks with my roommate, Shiva. At some point, we both tried out the campus gym for the first time but headed out after multiple failed attempts at operating the machines. In other words, l was in that honeymoon phase and everything was great.
Playing Uno reverse card game with my peers allowed me to reflect of how l missed my mother’s cooking, and of how we would have longer conversations back in Zimbabwe as compared to the quick “hello” as everyone swifts in between classes that l exchanged with people here in college. What caught my eye was how the America l had seen in the movies was different from the one l was in now; hence opportunity to create new experiences I have never imagined. During that time l developed severe nosebleeds, had Eczema, and even became allergic to grass. ln the midst of the highs, I also hit a pretty rough patch as l settled into the new environment. l remember calling my friend, Francis, and crying as soon as he had answered the call and going on to converse on the new experiences I was having. It took some great courage to share more of these feelings with the people around me. l hold in light Rachel & Nan who work in the Global Engagement Office, Mo, my supervisor in the admissions office, and the Engage program in my dorm room. More flames to Prof. Jack Igleman who has shown me where my academic interests lie and for giving me a fifty trillion Zimbabwean dollar note he has kept since his last visit to Zimbabwe in 2008. These people showed up and helped me acclimate to American life in more ways than l can imagine.
Nowadays l find joy in going on canoeing trips on weekends, calling Dean, my friend in South Carolina, giving admission tours to prospective students, and cycling on the numerous trails we have on campus. l have found my place here at Warren Wilson and l look forward to seeing how the liberal arts core will steer my direction. To the fourteen-year-old version of myself I’d say; spoiler alert, you will not be a pediatrician in the future, you won’t even be anywhere near the Medical field.
Munashe Robert Mutambi is a USAP Community School class of 2022 alumni and Fall 2023 is his first year at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.