The Week of Fog, Frustration, and Hidden Joy


The weather has been extremely cold this week. I guess global warming has come to Rwanda. Most days have been rainy and gloomy. Usually from my bedroom I can see miles of rolling hills but lately the view has been a few trees and a thick blanket of fog coating everything else:



Some days it is hard to remember that I am living in Africa when I look outside. The students seem perplexed by the constant layers of fog sweeping across the village and during break on Thursday they pulled their sweaters up to their noses and ran around chasing each other in some version of hide-and-seek that went all across campus and lasted the entire duration of the break. Sometimes I really like teaching younger kids, especially when they are doing goofy things like that.

I went to visit my host family which was wonderful. Both parents have had health issues this past year so I am trying to visit more frequently. I brought my host brother Thierry a football that he loved but most of the time the youngest child in the house, Alfa, ended up storming off with the ball when he didn’t get his way. The youngest child in any given group of kids in Rwanda always gets what they want because no one wants to be responsible for making them cry because then they get beat. So this is what most of the football game looked like:



It was really great to see the neighborhood kiddos again. They are all getting so big- crazy how fast time goes! The little girl in pink was just a baby when I lived there in 2011 and was terrified of me. This last time she smiled a lot and even sat in my lap. Of course I did bring candy but I would like to think part of it was just that she likes me more now! DSCN2688


Thierry and Alfa


School was a major source of frustration this past week. I am really trying this year to have my lesson plans written out well in advance and activities prepared, but somewhere in the hype of trying to be a better teacher I forget that flexibility is the key to success when it comes to working within this school system. Monday was my day off and I taught at the nursery school which was awesome. They are adorable and give lots of hugs.

Tuesday I only taught two of my five hours because sector officials randomly showed up with no warning to give a lecture on drugs and community policing. So pretty much a Rwandan DARE program. So that ended school for the day and all the schools in the area had to send their kids to a giant field where we waited under a sky of leaky rain clouds while they assembled speakers and put out plastic white chairs for all the important people. They asked all of the leaders to come to the front and I knew if was only a matter of time before they noticed me (and my white skin) and came to force me to the front. Eventually the head of police came to invite me to the front. I politely declined. She politely insisted that I come. I declined with a bit more attitude. She grabbed my arm and tried to pull me up front. Finally I explained to her that just because I am white doesn’t mean I am important enough to sit up front and I wanted to stay with my students and other teachers from the area. She was pretty annoyed and trudged off to complain to the other officials about the non-compliant white girl. So at this point I was sufficiently grumpy enough to sulk for most of the three hour presentation and finally left early with a few other teachers. A girl can only take so much.

So now my lessons were all messed up for the week but I was hoping to pull it together the next day. Again I taught two hours and then my headmistress came into each class to announce that school would end at 11am (three hours early) so the students could go to mass for Ash Wednesday. So another day cut short. The students cheered while I, in a continual state of sulkiness, drew bold red X’s through the rest of my lessons for that day. And the worst part is that I don’t really have a reason to be angry. I have always known that the schedule is flexible and I need to be prepared for sudden changes, but for some reason it really bothered me this week. Here is a snapshot of some of the kids at the assembly for drugs:



Thursday was Valentine’s Day. Since my romantic life is limited to watching trampy vampires and werewolves plot, scheme, and kill each other (my obsession with Vampire Dairies has yet to end), I decided to try to spread some Valentine’s Day love to my other teachers. Each teacher got a heart with their name on it that I used to decorate the teacher’s room. It went over well and they seemed to really appreciate the gesture. Although it was slightly annoying because they proceeded to grill me about my decision to hang certain hearts next to or above other hearts. I tried to explain it was random and I just did what I thought looked nice but they insisted on trying to draw connections about the order and future or secret relationships being hinted at by each heart’s position. It was kind of funny and kind of annoying. Over all it just felt like middle-school drama acted out by adults. They made me a nice card with flowers drawn on the front a little note from each teacher inside- it was a great way to end my work week.



The last image for this blog doesn’t really have anything to do with my week but I was on the phone the other day and saw this awesome cloud outside my room. Doesn’t it look like a rhino??? It made me think about the rhino in James and the Giant Peach, but I think that rhino was kind of evil and killed James’ parents, so I like to believe this rhino is a nice one.



Overall it wasn’t an awful week but it wasn’t my best week either. I came into Kigali this weekend for my English class I teach for lawyers, judges, and police officials and it went well, a little boring since my lesson was all grammar, but at least I had attentive students. The only weird thing was on my way in a crazy lady on my bus chewed on my hair. Actually grabbed my ponytail, shoved my hair into her mouth, and tried to eat it. I don’t really know what else to say about that incident, it was strange and I was happy to wash my hair later that morning.

Life has been unpredictable and a tad frustrating lately but I do my best to find happiness in each day. On Wednesday I watched music videos in Kinyarwanda with the kids at the orphanage, seven of us crammed onto a bench for three with twenty other kids surrounding my computer, singing along at the top of their lungs with their arms wrapped around each other. It was hot, sweaty, and chaotic fun. The kind of fun that serves as a perfect antidote to poisonous feelings of self-pity and frustration.

I hope that everyone back home is doing well and had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Know that I am sending you all lots of love from Rwanda!!!


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