Monday, August 26, 2013

Various Thoughts from my First 10 Days

Rwanda is a beautiful country.  It's called "The Land of a Thousand Hills" and I believe it.  Traveling any distance in the country involves twists, turns, ascents, and descents.  The hillsides range in color from red African soil to green fields of tea plants and banana trees.  There are many flowers, including hibiscus, bougainvillea, and orange day lilies.  I am told it will become more green once the rainy season starts in September. 
Tea fields
An example of a hillside in Rwanda

The people are very friendly.  Passing an acquaintance or friend on the street requires stopping and greeting that person with a handshake or hug.  There is a lot of laughter and joy among friends. 

Being white does attract some attention, mostly stares and the occasional shout of "Umuzungu," which means "white person," from children.  One high school aged boy jumped behind a tree to take a picture of me today.  I found it humorous.

The school where I am volunteering has 540 girls and a handful of boys.  The girls live on campus and the boys commute each day. 

At a debate competition with another school
My biggest role at the Ecole Notre Dame de la Providence en Karubanda is to be a native English speaker.  The students, ages 11-19, are taught in English, but it is not their mother tongue so they don't use it at home or with their friends.  It's not the mother tongue of the teachers either so they are excited to improve their English abilities.  Since I speak only a few words of French and Kinyarwanda, everyone has to speak English with me, which is a great asset for my role. 

I'm in a period of observation right now so I go with a teacher to his or her class and watch how teachers teach and students learn in Rwanda.  The students have a lot of questions for me, especially about my marital status and the United States.  A Rwandan woman my age would either be married or in a convent by now.  The girls are eager to speak with me; I've already had two requests to be a best friend.

The school's traditional dance troupe
One intimidating area of Rwanda for me is being mono-lingual.  The thought of having to negotiate food prices at the outdoor market or find out how much a mototaxi ride will cost frightens me so I am content to walk and eat through my supplies of veggies, pasta, and rice.  I am hindered by the language barrier for now, but soon I will either improve my comprehension of French numbers or learn them in Kinyarwanda so I can be more comfortable shopping.
Kigali from the road

1 comment:

  1. You look so happy in this picture Heather - glad to see that. These children are so fortunate to have you as their teacher.