Things I Have Learned
– It is really in your best interest not to look down the latrine (even if you think there may be spiders lurking in the outhouse ready to attack you).
– The fastest way to ruin a lovely (and warm) bucket shower is to spill the water
– There are LOTS of hills in Rwanda
– After a shower, you sweep the water into a hole in the wall and not out the door of the shower room out back (my host brother kindly showed me that I was doing this wrong).
– Rwandan people are VERY kind and always willing to help the volunteers learn Kinyarwanda
– Kinyarwanda is a very tricky language and it will take lots of time to master- there are all sorts of letters that are not pronounced (we fondly refer to them as the “sneaky letters”) and sounds that do not exist in the English language.
– My host father is a retired teacher and loves to help me with my homework at night. I am so lucky that he speaks French because it is such a comfort to have someone that I can communicate with. I have asked him to come speak to my group about teaching in the Rwandan education system and he was very pleased with the invitation and we look forward to learning from him!
– Children travel in groups and LOVE bubbles. Today there were about 15 kids outside my house so I went inside to get a tube of bubbles and they loved them! They were screaming so loud that a neighbor yelled at them to be quite and I felt a little bad- but we still managed to have fun! J
– My youngest host brother, who is 9, is a fan of chocolate and reading but is very shy and doesn’t hang around me too much. I gave him a SpongeBob book the first night and he looked at it for a couple of hours. I couldn’t believe how much time he spent studying the pictures! The next morning I heard something outside and when I looked out my window he was walking around with his book to show his neighbors. I often see him on my way to and from school, and I when I wave he giggles like he is embarrassed but then comes running over to walk me wherever I am going!
– My mother is a farmer (umuhinzi). She speaks only Kinyarwanda but is VERY nice and takes VERY good care of me. She likes to help me learn vocabulary words by pointing to things in the house and telling me the word in Kinyarwanda.
– There will always be awkward moments, that is just part of learning to adapt to a new culture (for example where do I spit after brushing teeth or my mom giving me a bucket after explaining that they lock the doors at night and the latrine is out back….)
– Don’t shine your headlamp in the eyes of the cow or goat when you go out back after dark- apparently the livestock like their privacy.
– If you need help with anything there are about 20 different people willing to drop whatever they are doing to help you.
– You cannot be a picky eater without offending your host family- therefore I eat everything that is served to me (mom and dad you would be so proud). They also think that Americans do not eat enough and try to serve us massive portions of everything, and even when you say “Ndahaze”, which mean I am full, they continue to serve you seconds or thirds of everything.
– There is no eating or drinking in public allowed (this includes public transportation and school) because it is considered rude
Overall I love Rwanda and feel very safe and loved living here! Miss you all lots! 🙂