Kibungo Address!

September 20, 2012

I put up my new address! It’s under the heading “Who is this?”

Feel free to send me letters. I will write back if you include your address!

September 16, 2012

Half the fun of travel is the esthetic of lostness. ~Ray Bradbury

Cultural Orientation

September 16, 2012

I have more than survived my first week in the ever so lovely Rwanda. The week included 8 to 5 meetings at the US Embassy composed of intensive  language lessons in Ikinyarwanda, culture studies and sessions on how to teach English amidst the Rwandan culture. One may think that would leave little energy for exploration of the capital or to meet locals, but the idea of being abroad is not just found in a small airless room surrounded by books. I may have wished the latter form of learning several years ago. But after exploring Cameroon and Suriname a bit, I’ve learned that the best experiences/intercultural epiphanies come over a cup of afternoon tea or a late evening beer (disclaimer: never more than one beer in a new bar and always surrounded by dependable travel companions). For any academics reading, the importance of primary research cannot be underestimated.  And in the form of informal discussion, it can be quite fun. Of course, people are not only subjects to be studied. But most everyone generally reacts postively when others invest time in them for either learning or to gain a relationship, even if they are muzungus (foreigners). No matter how tired I was during this first week, I tried my best to sit down and shoot the breeze with a Rwandan each day.

That seemingly simple statement said, Rwanda is noticeably different from anything that I’ve experienced. The city of Kigali is CLEAN and CALM, beyond what I thought any city of over 1 million could be. The land on which the city is built is quite hilly and has allowed large green spaces to separate the various districts. The people are outwardly very friendly particularly to young girls attempting ikinyarwanda, but lack the boisterousness of West Africans. And yet, there is clearly a stoicism that I don’t understand. For example, eating in public is not even remotely considered as it demonstrates a sense of weakness or fallibility. The stoicism is also oddly evident in frank conversation even when omitting more historically sensitive topics. Hopefully, this trait and its reasoning will become more comprehensible to my American neediness (I need to eat every 3 hours or I become a toddler) as make a few more intimate relationships. Even so, the stoicism appears to be quite enigmatic and may be a part of the culture that I will never truly understand, no matter how long I stay here. But as in Ray Bradbury’s quote above, there is an esthetic to being lost, both physically and culturally.

Arrival

September 9, 2012

After a long and tedious journey of two days, I have arrived in Kigali. I’m not quite sure how, but Kigali (and I’m hoping the rest of Rwanda) is even more green than Cameroon. I woke up at a quality 5:30 am to lovely worship songs in Ikinyarwanda as the Holy Day was celebrated throughout the city. Even though today was supposed to be spent resting up for a busy orientation on Monday, my fellow Fulbrighters and I couldn’t resist a little exploration. Most Rwandans apparently spend their Sundays at home as the city center was quite sleepy, but we still found plenty to see. Below are a few photos of this beautifully green and spacious capital city:ImageImageImageImage

Wiersema.David

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