Monday, August 25, 2008

How do you see Rwanda?

This is the question I am asked by many local people, and it is a hard one to answer truthfully. I see the beautiful people, kind hearts, many hills (its dry season, but they will be green), precious children, fun fabrics, God’s work within the country, astounding vision for change, great mini bananas, and incredible ex-pat friends. (Although I usually answer a simple: Oh, I love it. It is beautiful!) But, I also see the extremely bumpy dirt roads, insane drivers, the 2 hour long waits for ordering a meal, walking 10 minutes to catch a taxi (paying for a taxi), inconsistent internet, people always shouting ‘muzungu!’ and charging more because I’m white, lack of soap in restrooms, and probably the hardest thing is little to no control over time-which I’m a bit OCD about. Now, if you are reading this- don’t think I am not loving it! I just have a certain realism about my thinking that takes me right through the ‘honeymoon’ stage of being in a new country and right into the practicalities of living here for awhile.

For an example of an awesome experience so far, I will share with you about Movie Night. Apparently it started 2 years ago with 3 people. This past Sunday night there were closer to 15 people in an apartment across from the school. People there are all ex-pats from all over the world! I can’t remember everyone- but I think there was someone from Ireland, US, New Zealand, England, West Africa, Rwanda, and probably others. Just hearing all the different accents was fun! Besides the fact that I was able to meet some neat people, the movie we watched was “adorably bizarre” and I loved it! My expectations for a movie called ‘Son of Rambo’ were not all positive, but it turned out to be a great (and slightly odd) movie. I recommend you watching it.

The next event I want to share was the 2008 Crazy Fashion Show, in which four high school girls went to the market to put on a fashion show. They could spend 5000 or less (which is less than 10 US dollars) and they kept all their purchases a secret. Four of the new teachers went to a house and served as the judges for the contest. We judged on Thrift (least money spent), Creativity/Originality, Color/Accessory, and Wearability. Each of the four won in a specific category, and we had an overall winner who was awarded a trophy made from clothing used in last year’s Crazy Fashion Show. If this is any indication of how cool all the kids are- I’m excited. Anyone who knows me knows that costumes and/or crazy clothes are a passion of mine!

My First Official Day at Work occurred today (Monday), which happens to also be my half birthday. Thanks for the email birthday greetings mom! I am 22.5 today. (I bought ice cream at Bourbon and grabbed 5 spoons to share with friends in celebration) Well, anyways, today was our first work day up at the school. We had in-service/team building in the morning, school provided lunch, and then we had the rest of the afternoon to work on our classrooms. I kept thinking about all my sweet new teacher friends back in the states (Adrienne and Emily- for sure you two) who began their first day of school today- how exciting! I wish I could hear all about it!! Back in Rwanda, I have one week to organize my room, make materials, look at curriculum, buy items for the room, and have everything ready. Although it can be hard to work with the anticipation of materials and not their actual presence, I still feel that I accomplished at least a little bit so far. My classroom is the orange room…pictures of the transformation process to come. Last Friday I at least had help to lower the desks and I rearranged the classroom to try to designate a space for different areas. Today I was given smaller chairs, put up text books in the bookcase, found posters and other supplies, started on a welcome poster, and browsed through some of last year’s materials. As freaked out as I am about started the school year- I think everything is going to be ok, and I am really looking forward to it!

Another great thing is that we Found a House! After all of the trouble we have had in trying to find a place, we finally think we have a home to look forward too! The headmaster was able to take pictures and draw layouts of two houses that we were not able to go to. We chose one and are looking forward to negotiating a contract tomorrow* (*=hopefully). For now, as all the teachers are currently waiting on housing, we have been split up to stay with different families. I have the privilege of staying with the Jenkins family and their wonderful and sweet cook, Topista. Today we ate pancakes and watermelon for breakfast- it was awesome after a week with stale toast. Tomorrow I look forward to getting more supplies organized in my classroom and getting a handle on the plan for the first week of school- there are a lot of things I’d like to accomplish! As always, thanks for reading and don’t forget to keep in touch and remember me in your prayers. I imagine I will have great need for patience, rest, and encouragement. Thanks!