May 18, 2015
Just a few months ago, Bright Rwagatare stood on the stage of the Great Hall dressed in a sleek, black suit that was the definition of dapper. As the Grand Knight Staff was handed to him, a roar of approval went up throughout the gym. It was a fitting symbol of how much he is respected and revered in the BSM community.
The process of Bright coming to Minnesota begins with former BSM teacher Mr. James Cave. Cave, accompanied by current BSM teacher Mr. Dave Kuntz, travelled to Rwanda to experience the culture. The two were looking for someone with local knowledge to help them navigate the country when a chance-encounter led them to Greg Bakunzi, a man who promotes tourism throughout Rwanda and who also happens to be Bright’s father. Two years later, during a visit to Minnesota, Bakunzi and Cave agreed that Bright’s education would be best nurtured at BSM. Thus, the Cave’s opened up their home and welcomed Bright into their family. “I expected there to be snow right when I arrived,” Bright chuckled, “then I realized it was hotter than Rwanda has ever been.”
Bright first set foot on the BSM campus in 2010 equipped with an infectious smile and, at the time, a lot of anxiety. Being thrown into a society unlike anything he had ever experienced back home in Rwanda, Bright was forced to completely adjust, which took time. “My first day at school I had no idea how to open my locker, so I just stood there for probably five minutes and somehow Isaac Schmitz just showed up and helped me. My head was spinning, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I cannot do this.’ I was scared of everyone and everything,” Bright said.
Soccer was an essential outlet for Bright’s transition from Rwandan culture to his new home’s as it provided a way to relate to athletes that go to BSM. “In eighth grade, I had a hard time understanding the American lifestyle and didn’t think I would be continuing onto high school after that year, so soccer felt like it was the only thing I was good at. Soccer helped me become more social and freed my mind of all the confusions I was going through,” Bright said.
Now that Bright has not only settled into life in the US, but is thriving in it, he has his sights set on the future. “Hopefully, I can start a farm project. I’ve been saving a little bit of money, so when I go back [to Rwanda] I’m going to buy some land there. It would have to start small, and then if everything goes well I would keep developing on it,” Bright said.
Next year, Bright will be attending Winona State University to study International Business and continue his soccer career on the club soccer team, and as the end of his senior year approaches quickly, his final remark in regards to the senior class is, “This was probably the best year of my life. It was fun, exciting with a ton of new experiences, and I loved it.”