Embracing optimism

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: October 31st, 2022

The first time Kuruthumu Hemed Saidi (‘26, Tanzania) ever got on a plane, she flew 400 kilometers from Arusha to Zanzibar in Tanzania on a trip that completely changed her life. Her long journey had a heartbreaking purpose: to bury her father and say goodbye to a man she respected and loved with all her heart. He had watched over her family’s welfare and livelihood, and losing him also meant losing her childhood home and the economic stability her family had painstakingly achieved. Kuruthumu and her sister had to separate from their mother to live with other relatives. They were suddenly nomads and had to adapt to a new lifestyle.

The journey from Tanzania to Costa Rica.

The second time Kuruthumu flew, she went on a huge KLM plane from Dar es Salaam to San José, Costa Rica – another life-changing flight. However this time, it was different. Kuruthumu happily traveled to Costa Rica to be part of EARTH University’s Class of 2023-2026. She took many pictures of the first take-off and the skies she crossed. During her stops in Amsterdam and Panama City, she excitedly told her family all about her adventure. Her two suitcases came loaded with colorful dresses and hopeful dreams for the future.

Doña Chepita and Kuru.

Several weeks later, she now lives in a small community near the Guácimo Campus with Josefa Pereira (aka “doña Chepita”). Josefa’s family is one of the hosts who receive non-Spanish speaking students who arrive five months before the school year begins to be part of the Spanish and Intercultural Induction Program. The intensive language immersion course helps accelerate international students’ integration into Costa Rican culture. Kuruthumu attends Spanish classes daily at the Guácimo Campus with fellow international classmates. Every night at home with doña Chepita, they cook together, and Kuruthumu learns new words. In January 2023, she will move into the student residences ready to begin her courses.

Spanish class.

Coming to EARTH for Kuruthumu means finding a new home, a second family, greater stability, and a new drive to succeed. Although the past few years have been emotionally and economically challenging, she radiates optimism, which she says she inherited from her mother. She says she believes that everything in life works out better when you live fully in the present; sadness is circumstantial, and if we let it rule our lives, it becomes a map that only leads to dark places. It was Kuruthumu’s optimism that got her to EARTH. She had been looking for a new place to live in Tanzania and felt helpless, but then received the news that she had been admitted to the University on her second attempt. “This opportunity came at just the right time,” she says with a sigh of relief.

Kuru with her mother and sister.

Kuruthumu loves her new home at EARTH, where she eagerly soaks in new knowledge. For her, studying agricultural sciences is an opportunity to help other women like her sister and mother. It’s a way to use her creativity to seek new opportunities to contribute to her country’s welfare and work in a field she considers essential. “Agriculture is the most important thing because it gives us food,” she says. In the future, she hopes to have an agricultural business that creates new jobs and provides her family with a better quality of life.

Kuruthumu is grateful that this second airplane trip has led to growing, dreaming, and making changes in her life that let her embrace her characteristic optimism – the optimism she radiates to fill the world with light.

Welcome to your new home, Kuruthumu!