Three days ago, nearly 50 new Peace Corps trainees stepped off the plane into the cool Rwandan night. We were excited, anxious, confused, and more than a little exhausted, but looking forward to exploring our new home. We spent our first three days in the capital, Kigali, a red-roofed city built into a stretch of green rolling hills.
These days in Kigali weren’t full of cultural exploration, though we did try to make a dent in learning the language. Nor do I yet understand the layout of the city, because we scarcely saw outside the walls of the hotel and Peace Corps headquarters. What these days did provide was the time to get to know our cohort and support staff who we will be spending most of the next two years in communication with. Nothing brings a group of people together faster than a grand adventure into the unknown.
Three nights later, as we board a bus for our training site and to meet our host families, we’re ready to begin our actual journey into our mission as PCVs. From here on out, the focus will be on integration and skill building so we will be fully prepared in December when we depart for our permanent sites and our service begins in earnest.
I don’t have a whole lot of insight from these first few days, but I do have a few observations on what we’ve learned so far.
Kinyarwanda is really a beautiful language. Unfortunately, my tongue doesn’t want to form the words yet. Try to pronounce “Mwirire”; I will bet that 95% of you did not say that correctly. My closest approximation of a phonetic spelling is “midigwe”, but that doesn’t quite get the finesse of the word correct. PST is concerned greatly with learning the language, so I hope to get better soon. Maybe I’ll even start to pronounce things correctly.
One of the first things we learn about Rwandans is that they take pride in their appearances and in cleanliness. That works for me! Maybe my near manic cleaning sprees of my own living space won’t be out of place here after all.
Unfortunately we haven’t yet begun to experience the culture of Rwanda first hand, but just an hour and a half from this moment we will arrive at our training site and begin this true journey as PCVs! More to come.
Listening To: Anywhere by Dillon Francis
Word of the Day: Inzoga – Kinyarwanda for ‘beer’. The most important word.