Friday, January 29, 2010

5 Months In...

The week has wrapped up and it was as hectic as I anticipated. The English training was finishing and a new volunteer, Jeremy, was going to arrive on Wednesday. He’ll be living with Jason and working with me as an Education Management Advisor. I scheduled a morning school visit so as to be back in Kibungo by lunch time to greet our new mzungu. Of course, I was anticipating things to run smoothly. The vehicles at the district were suddenly made unavailable and Jeremy had the pleasure of riding in a bus – by himself! – all the way to Kibungo. Now, that’s arriving in style! So I met the two J’s (as I will begin to affectionately call them) at St. Joseph’s for beer and brochettes. Suzanne and Frodauld joined us to formally welcome the new colleague. He is very relaxed and whereas I was freaking out about everything when I first got here (silently of course…), Jeremy just rolls with it – which is probably the single most important skill to have here. The roll-with-it-ness factor. Plus he also has the bring-chocolate-when-you-come factor, for which I’m equally grateful because my pre-Christmas stash is slowly (okay not slowly) disappearing.

 Thursday we spent part of the morning at the office and then Jason and I got to take Jeremy on a tour of the bustling metropolis. We walked from bank to hospital (which is the 5km length of the town) and took motos in between. As usually happens when visitors arrive to your home, you begin to see things through fresh eyes and see things you didn’t’ know where there. Take, for example, the “Bar Resto Progress.” They have a simple and cheap mélange but with amazing chips. It’s all the way into town and too far to go regularly but nice to know it’s there and with such a fantastic name, you surely can’t go wrong. Give it a month or two and…..Of course, Moses at Moderne is waiting for us to visit (as per his MIDDLE FO THE NIGHT text message to me).  Still, a change of mélange is just as good as a rest from mélange. No, wait. That’s not true. Melange is mélange.

 Today was the final day for the English training and the district organized events at the various centres. Jason headed to his sector and Jeremy and I got bikes to get to Teacher Training Centre (TTC) Zaza for 10am and the beginning of the ceremony. Of course, I had to drop things off at my house first and so we left late and didn’t arrive until about 10:30. No matter. The celebration was delayed anyway. It began at 1:00pm!!! Three hours late!! We were waiting for someone from the district to come. The setting was wonderful. The teachers at Zaza really put on the dog. (Is that the saying anyway? And if so, who came up with it?) There were tables with table cloths for the dignitaries (of which, we were a part) and signs welcoming us. I have to say, though, that the thing that impressed me the most was the fact that all the speeches to the English trainees were in English! This is a country that is trying to hard to learn English and is, at the same time, so proud of its own language. Teachers speak English while teaching but meetings are held in Kinyarwanda and that’s the language that they use to communicate. I was just so impressed that the head teachers and even the representative from the District, got up and spoke in English. I can’t imagine how hard it was. I was nervous giving my speach and I’m a native English speaker. If I had to speak Kinyarwanda I would say three things: Hello. Thank you. Good bye. I did joke, though, that it was the first meeting or celebration that I’d been to in the last five months that I actually understood! That got a laugh from the group. After speeches came Fantas and lunch. We finally headed home at about 3:00. It was so great to see the teachers again. I’m starting to remember faces and names and feel welcome wherever I go.

 We arrived at the district hot and dusty and headed to the romp rond (round about in English, pronounced “Romp way” here) for a beer with Jason and then and introduction to the Kibungo market for Jeremy. Finally I went into to see Consolee for some bread and we walked to my house together where she insisted that she carry my bag from the market. She is possible the sweetest person in town and a great French and Kinyarwanda teacher. She forces me to learn and makes me repeat things over and over…and that’s just while I buy my bread!!!

So, I came to watch the full moon rise over the valley and over my house. I re-heated some leftovers and I’m resting now. This life is a simple life but it’s an exhausting one. I shake more hands with people in a day than Obama running for president. I’m an introvert….I know that….and so while I love to be out there and smiling and saying “Mwiriwe!” to the population of Kibungo, it does tire me out. But wow, do I feel at home here. And as I say that, I look at my watch. It’s been exactly 5 months since I arrived in this great country. Wow…where has the time gone?

....and we really felt it.
The Zaza boyz.... Why is it though that they are laughing and joking but NEVER smiling in the photo? Ah well! Isaac, Andrew and Thibiti! Thanks for your hard work. Well done!
Okay, okay...let's all get in the photo. Charles joined us (and his scarf). He was fantastic and led all the teachers in songs after the speeches. He teaches in Kigali and I think he's students are lucky to have him.
Preparing our lunch at the TTC.
This is what the hall looked like at 10am.
This is what is looked like at 2pm! 

1 comment:

  1. As usual I am enjoying your great adventures. Great pics and great writing !!!Katie will arrive in Tanzania in just about 2 weeks. You don't get to see each other in Canada but maybe you guys might beable to in Africa. I'll get her to send you her info before she goes. She goes to Calgary on Sunday so your parents get to put up with her for 2 more nights. Keep well and stay safe. All the best. Love Aunt Dominica