How to help students bring their dreams to life

Faustine Iradukunda, a student at Rwanda Polytechnique Kigali, has always dreamt about becoming an artist. When she realised she had talent in drawing, she focused on that in school to perfect her skills. Currently, she is a professional artist. She draws portraits for sale and is also a special effects sketcher for local movies. 

She believes it is a parent’s role to discover what their children are gifted with, and encourage them to pursue it.

“If a child is good at singing, buy them music instruments or take them to a music school—the same applies to other talents. Nurturing a talent requires hard work, training and passion. You cannot pursue what you are not interested in,” she says.

Students during a lesson. Net photo.

“Children have very many dreams while growing up; if you asked them what they want to be in the future, you would be amazed by their responses. Some want to be teachers, doctors, nurses. Others, pilots, lawyers, journalists, among many other professions. It is easy to say, but what matters is how they work towards fulfilling their dreams,” she adds.

According to Alice Usabye, an educationist at Nyanza Southern Province, it is important for every child to have a dream because dreams will motivate them to do their best and reach their full potential, provide them with positive energy, keep them focused on what matters, give them a chance to shape the kind of person they want to be in a specific period and create excitement about life and potentials of the future.

She notes, for students to chase their dreams, they have to be willing to ask for help or advice. For example, they should have some values—like courage, belief in themselves, a plan, and confidence—and also set principles they will respect.

Eva Mutumba, a teacher at Little Bears Montessori, Kimihurura, says, students can chase their dreams only if they have the passion for that dream. This will expose their natural talent.

“Use success or testimonies as inspiration, don’t blame yourself for  mistakes but take them as lessons to learn from, be a good decision maker, don’t allow bad habits to make you lose your focus,” Usabye says.

She adds: “Surround yourself with positive people. When you want to achieve something, it is better to interact with positive networks, those on the same course as you; otherwise having negative friends could just discourage or put you off track.”

Michael Maniraguha, a lecture at University of Rwanda, Huye campus, says, setting the dreamed objective or goal and targets is necessary because you are driven to do what it takes to accomplish them, and make steps towards reaching your goals.

After planning your dream, you need to work on it. For instance, how can you be a good football player, locally or internationally? You have got to practice, know how other footballers got to where they are, read about their challenges and achievements, and this will keep you motivated.

Maniraguha explains that students should have someone to look up to, if one wants to be a lawyer, they should meet other successful lawyers and discuss the guidelines and steps towards becoming one.

Reaching anything bigger, either a profession, talent, or scholarship, requires discipline.  With good morals, you can go places, he adds.

Mutumba says having talent is a call; parents need to encourage their little ones, if possible, even award them when they do something unique. Your reaction as a parent will determine whether a child will be motivated or discouraged.

“Take, for example, a child who can sing; you can’t force them to be something else if they don’t want to. However, you can encourage your child to have a variety of capacities. Knowing how to sing shouldn’t stop them from trying other things as well,” she says.

Mutumba says that everything starts with the mind. Prepare yourself physically, spiritually and emotionally before starting any journey to success, because challenges are part of it.

She notes that if students are ready for tests, they will overcome any obstacle. Read books, do research, and challenge yourself to learn new things.

“Attributes you must have for your dream to come to life should be; self-esteem, confidence, patience; for your dream may take time to mature into what you want, but work even harder. Focus on your passion, not people’s views,” Mutumba says.

She urges students to ‘work for excellence’ if it’s what they want; be eager to learn from those who have been there and do some research about them, ask God to guide and direct you.

Enos Tumwikirize, a Kigali Parents’ School teacher, says that focusing on fulfilling a dream is a process that limits one from engaging in ‘useless’ activities. Realising a dream requires one to have a mentor for guidance.

Mutumba says achieving something big, for example, good grades, a job or business connections, requires patience—someone who doesn’t give up easily. Always focus on getting ahead.

Samuel Nkurunziza, the headmaster of Kagarama Secondary School, says that in order to make dreams compelling, you must be committed, decisive, and willing to take action.

He adds that dreaming big gives students a sense of direction, as this will push them to achieve the best results. It is through dreams that career choices are made.

“Students can have valid dreams depending on the career guidance given to them by their teachers in class.

“Therefore, a teacher has a big role to play when guiding students to achieve their dreams based on what they learn in class. They should also encourage long-term vision—beyond passing exams,” Tumwikirize says.

He further notes that valid dreams should also align with society’s needs. That is to say, one’s dream should focus on serving the community, not just the individual. This will avail more opportunities on the job market.

What kills a dream?

John Mary Musinguzi, Headmaster - Little Bears Montessori School, Kigali
Every dream has to have an accomplishment deadline. If not, there is a possibility of failing. Fear can sabotage your dreams. When you fear to fail, succeed, be yourself, or be different, you will fail to reach your goals. Offering too much time to things like TV, sleep, and other activities that divert you, can kill you dream.

Anita Uwase Teta, Student
Losing focus, like concentrating on the things that are not important and spending a lot of time with ‘negative’ people corrupts a dream. But the worst of all is laziness. When you are lazy, it is tricky to fulfil tasks, or do anything productive.

Emma Gahigana, Parent
Students should know that self-doubt will not take them anywhere. Self-doubt comes in many ways, for example; through pleasing people, indecisiveness, trying to be someone else, comparing yourself to others and being too concerned with what other people do or say. When you learn to believe in yourself, you will test yourself for bigger opportunities. Being impatient can also ruin your dream as you might think it is taking too long to happen.

Sarah Kabiswa Nakiberu, Teacher - Green Hills Academy, Nyarutarama
Negativity destroys a dream, for example, thinking ‘what if what you are pursuing doesn’t amount to anything, or is a waste of time?’ Mistaking your wants for needs, and failure to manage your time appropriately, could hinder you from reaching your objectives. Make a timetable that will guide you so that you know what to do and when.

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