On Monday, December 7th, the Penn Freshman Academy hosted an author for the first time since the current pandemic began. Joyful Clemantine Wamariya, author of The Girl Who Smiled Beads, addressed her audience of more than four hundred Kingsmen from her apartment in San Francisco. English 9 teachers taught her book for the first time in the Fall semester.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is an auto-biography written by Joyful Clemantine, who describes it as a "story of war and what comes after." The Rwandan Civil War broke out when Joyful was six years old and living in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The conflict forced her and her older sister Claire to spend six years moving from country to country to stay safe, abuse and hunger following them all the way. Eventually they were able to move to the USA to survive and begin a new life, but the war never left Joyful's memory. The Girl Who Smiled Beads is Joyful's memories of that conflict written down on paper, and is described by Samantha Power, author of "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide as a "defining, luminescent memoir that shines a sharp light on the dark forces that roil our age."

The students, who gathered via Google Meet, were able to ask Miss Joyful questions about a variety of topics: inspiration, experience, and motivation. In return, they received compliments, life advice, stories, tears, laughter, teachings, and so much more. Throughout the meeting Miss Joyful made a point to be warm and welcoming to the students, who returned the favor. It is clear that she lives up to the name she chose for herself: Joyful.