L & R



This post is brought to you by the letters L and R

One of the most intriguing aspects of Kinyarwanda is that the letters L and R are interchangeable. The word for rice is “umuceri” but you can also write it “umuceli” and it is the same word. This is fine for Kinyarwanda but the problem is that people have a hard time breaking the habit when they transition to the English language. The first few weeks of school I was so confused because the class list would say Elissa and yet she writes her name Erissa. This is the same for many of my students: Caline/Carine, Liliane/Lirirane/, Silas/Siras… you get the idea. Once I figured out they were indeed the same kid it didn’t really matter, however there are certain words that they still really struggle with due to the “L & R conundrum.”

Here are a few examples:

Glass and grass

Pray and play

Self and serf

I had the kids draw self-portraits last week and probably half of the papers were labeled as “serf portraits” despite the fact that all they had to do was copy the word from the board.  L & R are the same letter to them and there is not much I can do to persuade them to believe otherwise.

A personal favorite that is often confused: election and erection. Another volunteer once saw a sign that said, “Local erections today!” Sometimes one letter can play a pretty significant role. 🙂

In other news, second term is almost finished! Next week is intended for reviewing exam material and the following week will be exams. After exam week I will climb onto a bus for a short 30-hour ride to Tanzania to spend a week on the beach with friends! When I was walking to the main road this morning I got a phone call from the other English teacher, Louis. He told me to stop walking so fast because he had been trying to catch up with me for the past five minutes. I stopped walking and chatted with some kiddos at the church and waited for him to arrive. Once he caught up we continued on and I discovered through a conversation about school that both Monday and Wednesday are holidays next week… which means I will only teach seven hours and one of my classes will only get one hour of review instead of five. Not really fair but I guess life is that way sometimes.

In a final note: The nuns saw a clip on the news about the fire in Colorado Springs and held an extra prayer session last night to pray for my family and the people in Colorado. I have no idea what I did to deserve such an amazing family of nuns but I am so incredibly blessed to have them in my life!

Here are a few photos from the orphanage- I hope everyone back home is safe from the fire! Komera! Be strong!


One response »

  1. Dear Suzie: Thank you and the nuns for your prayers. It is not over yet. 15% contained. But much much better. Bless all children and teachers in your orphanage! Including you. Love Berni Barber Johnson (Kelsey’s and Kayla’s Grandmother or is it Glandmothel)

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