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Friday, December 30, 2011

Before I Go...

It’s hard to believe, but I am merely days away from entering a country I’ve never been to before – Rwanda. It was almost a year and a half ago that I applied for a Fulbright grant to teach English in Rwanda and it was over 7 months ago that I found out I got the grant and then (after a long thought process) accepted it. Since that time, it’s always seemed so far away. “I have plenty of time to get ready – that’s in the future.” I’ve adapted that mentality so well that it was only very recently that I convinced myself that it is no longer the future but the present.

Before I actually leave, I thought I’d give a little background in the form of an FAQ. These are actual frequently asked questions, in rough order of popularity.

Why Rwanda? Since I visited Uganda in 2009, I have had Rwanda on my “to visit” list. At that time, I heard stories or Rwanda’s beauty, peace, and cleanliness. They also drive on the right side of the road which is a perk for people like me who have trouble adjusting – even crossing the street can be tricky. Since my first visit to East Africa, I knew I would be back. The region has that kind of effect. Yes, I applied specifically for Rwanda.

Isn’t there a genocide there? There was a genocide in 1994. It lasted approximately 100 days. Rwanda is now in a period of reconciliation. The conflict has ended and the country is peaceful today, but the effects are still present in various ways that I hope to learn more about.

What will you do and where will you live? I will be an “English Teaching Assistant”(ETA) at a university called ISAE (The Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry; ISAE for its French translation) and will live on its campus.

What language is spoken? The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French, and English. In 2009, it became mandated that English replace French as the language of instruction in schools and universities, making this an interesting time to teach English there.

How are the hotels? This isn’t really frequent, but it has definitely been asked.

I hope to use this blog to:
a. Shed light on what I hear is a beautiful and noteworthy country. Disturbing images of Hotel Rwanda (referenced above if that wasn’t clear) are very salient in many minds, and while these are important images, I hope to show something beyond that.
b. Share my own experience through stories and hopefully pictures.


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