March 13th marked 6 months since my plane touched down in Kigali, setting this journey in motion. My friend Sarah (although we haven’t actually met- hopefully soon though!) is another education PCV in Rwanda, and occasionally she posts about why she’s still here, continuing to push herself to grow, to learn more Kinyarwanda, to work on various projects, etc. I started reading Sarah’s blog when I first accepted my invitation to Rwanda back in June, when I was desperate for any and all information about what in the world I had just signed up for.
Six months in country feels like quite the milestone, even if it is only a small one in the long run of my time here. I took some time to reflect about my experiences so far and found myself thinking back to Sarah’s posts about her hopes for the future.
Sometimes being a Peace Corps Volunteer is trying. It’s frustrating to know just enough Kinyarwanda to know when someone is talking about you but not enough to know exactly what is being said. It used to be amusing when after I greeted ladies at the market and to hear them whisper to each other, “Azi Kinyarwanda! She knows Kinyarwanda!” Ok, I’ve been here for a while now; there were two volunteers here before me. Yes, we PCVs know basic Kinyarwanda. Although I love Emmanuel the cook, I’m getting rather tired of eating more corn porridge for breakfast or plantains again for dinner (which is why today I cooked macaroni and cheese in a hot water kettle at 5:45am.Oh, the florescent orange, cheesy goodness!) And it doesn’t feel good when a thirteen year old asks you in flawless English, “Teacher, do all white people wear such ugly shoes?” Ouch.
Despite having some not-so-great moments, overall I love Rwanda! The difficult aspects only make the wonderful ones feel that much greater! So here’s my list of reasons why I still want to be in Rwanda and my goals for the next six months!
Why I am at my school:
• Because my students do little things that crack me up. For example yesterday after school a student was reading a book out loud to me to practice his pronunciation. His English teacher has been making them listen to various speeches, most recently by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Dalai Lama. Adrien started imitating their accents as he read, and even through the Rwandan accent, it was pretty hilarious how good he was!
• Because my students, especially Senior 5, have started to ask me questions! (This is huge.)
• Because some of my students have finally started calling me Lauren in informal settings rather than always calling me Teacher.
Why I am in my village:
• Because I am excited to finish the library training classes and to expand the library in the future.
• Because some of those kids have also stopped calling me Teacher and have started calling me by name when I pass them on the street.
• Because I think I’m getting fewer stares when I go for a jog in the morning.
• Because I love learning to make baskets. And because I love going to sit with the lovely women Tuesday afternoons. I don’t understand most of what they’re saying, but I love listening to them laugh. They crack each other up!
• Because I finally got a Kinyarwanda tutor so I’m taking lessons twice a week.
Why I am in Rwanda:
• Because in two weeks we have break and I foresee bagels, hiking, books at the beach, and time with great friends.
• Because I like to daydream about sharing this beautiful country with my parents when they eventually come visit!