Some of my favorite moments traveling are the ones that make you realize what a small world we live in. Even though you may be thousands of miles away from home, where the sounds and smells are completely different, where the landscape looks completely foreign, inevitably you will still find similarities that link you with home.
For example, in Australia I bumped into family friends from Ohio who were also on vacation and staying in the same hotel. At a tiny political science conference in Ireland, I met a fellow Gator who was studying abroad in London. Since arriving in Rwanda, I have had two of these happy coincidences.
As I prepared to leave this summer, my recruiter put me in contact with a Volunteer already serving in Rwanda so I could ask questions and figure out exactly what I had just signed myself up for. During my initial few months of training, I lived with a host family, which turned out to be the same family this Volunteer had lived with!
My second reminder of just how small the world is came last week. Mom emailed me to say that her church is planning to sell traditional Rwandan ageseke, baskets, as a service project this year. They’ve found a cooperative here that has a partnership with the United Methodist Church to buy baskets from. Hoping to maybe visit one day and take some pictures, I asked for the name of the organization.
Turns out, this cooperative is in my very own village! The women who make the baskets are all widows of the Genocide, who, with help from the Catholic Diocese in my village, sell baskets to support their families.
I was floored: of all the basket-making cooperatives in all of Rwanda, the church chose the one in my village, completely by chance!
I visited the cooperative last Friday and met the two nice women who were working that day, Josephine and Clementine. I watched for about an hour and snapped some photos as they wove miniature orange and blue agaseke. I hope to try my hand at making them over the course of my time in Rwanda.
I love these serendipitous occurrences because they remind me that despite the great distance and numerous differences, we are all connected in some small, inexplicable way. I feel like these two coincidences are somehow a little affirmation that my decision to come here was the right one.