While it was certainly nice to visit Kibuye for a while it feels truly fantastic to be home. I missed the nuns and the comfort of the convent and being away has made me so grateful to have this loving support system in Rwanda. The nuns loved hearing about my trip and were anxious to hear about my exam. As you might recall from earlier postings, my first LPI (the oral language exam Peace Corps uses) was not exactly a stellar performance on my part so I was required to take it again at IST. Technically, in order to be a volunteer, you have to achieve at least “Intermediate Low” on your LPI to stay in country.I have never heard of a volunteer being sent home because of this but I sure didn’t want to be the first one!
I spent my first few months at site trying to study Kinyarwanda as much as possible and my headmistress, Espérance, is my formal language tutor. We meet once a week and she takes her job very seriously, which is probably why I have improved so much- I would be lost without her! I received “Intermediate Mid” which I was very pleased with. Of course there is lots of room for improvement, but considering I received “Novice Mid” on my very first LPI during training, things are looking good. It turns out that I am actually capable of learning Kinyarwanda- it just takes a while! The nuns were really excited to celebrate my success and they even purchased apple juice for me as a surprise treat.
Dinner was filled with all sorts of amusing drama. At the start of dinner a bird flew into the dinning room and took a few laps around the area until he retired to the kitchen to perch on a light fixture for the remainder of the evening. The nuns seemed completely unfazed by his presence and continued washing the dishes with our visitor looking down on them, casually supervising their work while soaking in the heat of the light bulb.
What they did mind was when a lizard fell from a light fixture onto the table while we were eating. The room was immediately filled with screaming nuns frantically relocating across the room or standing on chairs to avoid the lizard touching them. I found this rather amusing since they are constantly mocking me for my fear of spiders and rats. They have so many lizards here so I was quite surprised by the amount of commotion it caused and I am happy to finally have something to tease them about when they feel obliged to say, “Suzanna, it is just a little imbeba (mouse), it cannot eat you!” And for the record, these rats are positively enormous and while I know that they cannot “eat me” I feel it is completely acceptable to be grossed out by their presence in the kitchen and dinning room.
Overall it is wonderful to be home! I start teaching again tomorrow and it will be nice to get back into a routine with structured days after 4 weeks of holiday! Sending everyone back home lots of love from Rwanda!