Chapters 27–32

After surviving a massacre in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ten-year-old Sandra Uwiringiyimana came to the United States to start a new life. In this harrowing and affecting memoir, she recounts her childhood, her experiences as an immigrant in America, and her humanitarian work.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. fare
    the sum charged for riding in a public conveyance
    A few people asked us for bus fare.
  2. relish
    derive or receive pleasure from
    I relished seeing the familiar faces of my relatives, and I essentially met my grandparents for the first time.
  3. matriarch
    a female head of a family or tribe
    Grandma had raised four daughters and four sons, and she was a true matriarch: Her husband had died after my mom got married, and she cared for the family on her own.
  4. serene
    not agitated
    My grandfather was just like my dad—sweet and serene.
  5. activism
    a policy of action to achieve a political or social goal
    He told me that he had been following my activism.
  6. missionary
    someone who attempts to convert others to a doctrine
    She had been adopted by a missionary couple on the Ivory Coast.
  7. eclectic
    selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas
    A guy named Philip rounded out my eclectic group of friends.
  8. mystified
    totally perplexed and mixed up
    Mom was totally mystified.
  9. manifestation
    an indication of the existence of some person or thing
    This was a small manifestation of a much larger issue on campus.
  10. antic
    a playful, attention-getting act done for fun and amusement
    These kinds of antics were not what I expected from my college experience.
  11. chasm
    a deep opening in the earth's surface
    I was exhausted by the thought of dealing with more racial chasms.
  12. paramount
    having superior power and influence
    I agreed that getting my college degree was paramount, but I wanted to do it in an environment where I could feel comfortable.
  13. flashback
    an unexpected but vivid recurrence of a past experience
    Pretty soon the nightmares hit during the day— flashbacks.
  14. lethargic
    deficient in alertness or activity
    I became depressed, lethargic.
  15. residency
    the act of dwelling in or occupying a place
    One day I told Shannon I didn’t know why I was alive, and she got so worried about me, she reported me to the residency director.
  16. unprovoked
    occurring without motivation or incitement
    They just show up, unannounced, unprovoked.
  17. accountability
    responsibility to someone or for some activity
    I must keep telling it, until the international community proves my words are not only worthy of empathy, but also of accountability.
  18. superficial
    of little substance or significance
    The professor told Princesse that she thought I had become distracted by superficial things, such as makeup and clothes.
  19. dejected
    affected or marked by low spirits
    My friend Kaya came to visit and started crying when she saw how dejected I looked.
  20. forthright
    characterized by directness in manner or speech
    He was gentle, and I could be honest and forthright with him, and he would not judge me.
  21. recede
    pull back or move away or backward
    Little by little, the flashbacks began to recede.
  22. sporadic
    recurring in scattered or unpredictable instances
    Rocco kept telling me it would help to see Adele, to ease my way back into the family after several months of sporadic messages.
  23. asymmetrical
    characterized by an imbalance in spatial arrangement
    I spotted something more unique: a flowing black-and-white gown with a cool asymmetrical print.
  24. antsy
    nervous and unable to relax
    A photographer was getting antsy and asked me to turn toward the camera.
  25. embolden
    give encouragement to
    Afterward, I saw Bradley Cooper and felt emboldened to walk right up and say hello.
  26. swoon
    pass out from weakness or physical or emotional distress
    I was swooning.
  27. chiffon
    a sheer fabric of silk or rayon
    The Washington Post said, “In a sea of chiffon and florals, Sandra Uwiringiyimana’s bold black-and-white graphic print by Zero + Maria Cornejo stood out.”
  28. somber
    grave or even gloomy in character
    It was a long, somber drive.
  29. pang
    a sharp spasm of pain
    As soon as he left, I felt a pang.
  30. mediator
    a negotiator who acts as a link between parties
    For my mom and me, he became a mediator.
  31. profound
    of the greatest intensity; complete
    It was profoundly uncomfortable for Mom and me to sit down together.
  32. tsunami
    a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave
    There was a tsunami of emotion on both ends.
  33. tenacious
    stubbornly unyielding
    She had always been so tenacious, no matter what life threw at her.
  34. instill
    teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions
    But at the same time, my parents were the ones who had instilled the confidence in me to be myself.
  35. camaraderie
    the quality of affording easy familiarity and sociability
    There’s a certain sense of camaraderie in the city, a feeling that we’re all in it together, no matter how different we might be.
  36. spur
    incite or stimulate
    I told her he’s a great guy, a caring and supportive soul who had spurred me to reunite with my family.
  37. spite
    hurt the feelings of
    “Mom,” I implored, “I don’t think it’s fair for you to expect me to live within these cultural expectations. I’m not trying to spite you. But we live in America now. I don’t want to live my life based on where I came from. I don’t want to be defined by a race, a culture, a tribe.”
  38. gawk
    look with amazement
    The hot African sun felt good on my skin after the long winter in New York, and we gawked at hippos, rhinos, giraffes, and zebras.
  39. utopia
    ideally perfect state
    Our relationship had been an escape from reality, a little utopia.
  40. inclusive
    encompassing much or everything
    I want to be inclusive.
Created on June 22, 2018 (updated June 22, 2018)

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