A few years after Fadhili Achinda ’20 moved with her family to Vermont from Tanzania, she told her late father that the climate is too cold. He responded, “But the people who live in Vermont, they’re very warm.”
That definitely applies to Johnson where, even on her first campus visit, Fadhili knew she was welcome. “In my heart, I felt like I belonged here. I told my mom, ‘I feel like I am home’…I didn’t care about the weather anymore. I cared about the people.”
Fadhili, a Childhood Education major, has even taken up snowboarding. She also loves Johnson’s mountain setting and the many nearby hiking opportunities.
She’s inspired to be a teacher from her experience attending a French school in Tanzania, where her family relocated from their native Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2013 her family moved to Hinesburg, and she later graduated from Champlain Valley Union High School.
In Tanzania, “I didn’t receive a good education,” Fadhili says. “The teachers were not paid well, so they didn’t care about the students at all.”
But she cares. “I want to give others the opportunity to have a good education,” she says. “I see how education is very important for kids.”
Her family’s move to the United States was motivated mostly by a desire for a better education for Fadhili and her siblings, one of whom, her sister Fahari, also was a first-year Johnson student in 2016-17.
The biggest obstacle for Fadhili was learning English. “Everything changed, the food, the language,” she says. “Everything is new to you… It’s like someone takes you and drops you in China.”
In her Johnson classes, English sometimes is a challenge. “My professors have been wonderful. They’re very supportive” and meet with her outside of class, she says.
Aside from academics, Fadhili enjoys the friends she has made at Johnson and loves to attend athletic events. She was in a group of students that met monthly with President Elaine Collins to discuss ways to enhance the student life experience. She was on the volleyball team until she was sidelined by a health issue. And Fadhili looks forward to being a Resident Assistant as a sophomore.
Far from Congo and Tanzania, she has settled into the Johnson community. “You know there are people who support you,” Fadhili says. “Everything for me here is great… That has made me feel like I could stay here for a long time.”