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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Linguistic Musings

When teaching English, it can be really interesting to see how non-English-speakers hear and think about the language. When you don't know a language well, you become very creative in the way you use it. 

Here are some superb new words and phrases that I learned, for example, while grading final exams at the university: 

"Himselvely" = By himself 
"Talk the brag" = Brag
"Steal man" = Thief 

Is it just me, or would you also love to incorporate some of these words into your everyday vocabulary? You know, you have to know a thing or two about English grammar and conventions to develop these. Actually, it takes a lot of creativity to come up with this stuff!  

Now, on a somewhat related note, I have a fun little game for you: 

When tutoring the National Cycling Team of Rwanda in English, I asked them, in groups, to make a list of words that start with a particular letter. I was particularly entertained by the "P" group. This game is called, "What Did They Mean?" What do you think these words were meant to be? 

1. Poleche 
2. Porbureme
3. Pepo
4. Penebara
5. Porgeht 
6. Phalmoce
7. Pecha 

So that I can put a little space between the questions and answers, let me give some helpful advice. For speakers of Kinyarwanda, and many African languages for the matter, it's extremely common to mix up the R and the L. In fact, it is often acceptable to interchange these letters in Kinyarwanda (and Luganda, etc.) words. In  other words, both spellings can be acceptable. This is funny because in American English, R and L are totally distinct sounds. But for many Africans and others, they are more or less exactly the same. Evidence (from Uganda, not Rwanda): 

Now here are those answers: 

1. Porridge 
2. Problem 
3. People 
4. Peanut Butter 
5. Project 
6. Pharmacy 
7. Picture 

Didn't see "peanut butter" coming, did you? :D


Tour of Kigali

Now it’s time to travel to Kigali. We’ll take this Kigali Bus Service (KBS) bus. These buses very recently arrived here, I believe from China. I don’t know this for a fact, but there are sometimes Chinese movies playing on the bus (entertaining no one expect an occasional Chinese tourist, I suppose). And I’ve never been to China but this bus kind of represents how I picture China in my head. I don’t personally like these buses because they are actually city buses – like MTA or TCAT style. To me, this sort of bus doesn’t make sense for 2+ hour trips. But apart from me, other people think they’re really new-fangled and cool. And when they’re not playing Chinese movies, they play music videos which I appreciate very much.

Perhaps you noticed in the picture the men selling drinks and snacks. If you didn’t, look now. This is a very convenient way to purchase your trip snacks. In other countries like Uganda and Burundi they usually have things like chapatti and corn and brochettes (meat), but street food is outlawed in Rwanda, so they stick to packaged cookies and biscuits.

Well enough of that introduction to the bus. Here comes the journey. First we need to get out of the bus park. We’ll pass by these motorbike (moto) drivers on the way out.

I’ll skip the pictures of the road because I have a lot of Kigali pictures ahead. 

2 hours later, we’ve arrived at the bus park in Kigali: 

And now we will hop on one of those motos and go to town. This is like the “city center”:

In the background of that picture, you see the slogan of the 18th commemoration of genocide, “Learning from our history to build a bright future,” in Kinyarwanda and English. Below is Hotel des Mille Collines, made famous by Hollywood:

Nakumatt is a big Kenyan supermarket located in two locations in Kigali:

Across the street, the Church de Sainte Famille. I went here on Palm Sunday. It's possible to learn some history through Google. 

Now we’re going to go to a place called Kacyiru which has two interesting attractions: the American Embassy and…. drumroll…. a really beautiful, brand new, very modern public library. To me, it’s exciting because I happen to love libraries and I think it should be a requirement for all cities. If you went to Cornell, it reminds me of Mann. So here it is:

And right across the street is the American Embassy (not the highest quality picture but I like how the flag looks):

And here is a bit more of the Kacyiru area:

King Faisal Hospital, opened years ago with the support of the Saudi government. A good place to access medical care: 

Here are some pictures showing the residential landscape. The first is my friend Ian in front of his house (in the distance):

You must have noticed the cleanliness and general beauty of Kigali. Here’s why (garbage cans):

So there you have it. The tour of Kigali. It is not complete. There is far more to see, but I don’t want to bore you. (And as I mentioned in the last post, taking pictures can be rough, at least for me…).

If you want a longer tour, my arms are open for welcoming visitors (wink, wink)!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tour of the North

I was thinking about a blog post or two purely meant to give a visual of Rwanda. I guess I’ve kind of left such descriptions to the imagination. So here is a photo tour starting where I work/live at the Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE) in Busogo and ending in the city near where I live, Musanze. The next tour will pick up in Musanze and continue to the capital city of Kigali. Note: Some of these pictures were majorly embarrassing/difficult to obtain (well mostly just the ones in Byangabo and the market) so I hope you appreciate each one. Enjoy…

Here is the inside of my house:  

Step outside my house and here's what you'll see: 


There are a lot of people working around the university whose job is to keep the place looking beautiful (they succeed, wouldn’t you say?). These are the children of one of the ladies who is usually working around my house:


Now we’ll meander up to the academic part of the campus. Here are just a couple images of the campus:


The place where I’ve been spending a lot of time recently is the newly-created “career center.” Here students can find career guidance (well, ideally), practice their English, and use the Internet. Have a look:


It’s an agriculture school in a rural area, so of course there are animals everywhere (and people to take care of them). They are used for teaching and also produce milk, eggs, etc. which are sold in the community:


And if we continue up, we’ll find the recently-built administrative building. I have an office in there, in which I spend very little time now that the career center is my unofficial office:


Now we’ll leave the campus and move to the nearby city of Musanze. First we'll have to walk to the small town of Byangabo. Here's Byangabo: 

Byangabo has a market day every Tuesday and Friday. People come from neighboring villages to sell the vegetables they grow (and clothes, utensils, etc.). This is where I buy my fresh fruits and vegetables. Here's the market: 

Now it's time to go to Musanze, so we'll take a taxi like this for about 30 minutes:


Here’s what you might see along the way:

We'll just stop at one village along the way. Getting to one of the villages usually involves moving down a big hill from the main road. This happens to be a celebration of "International Women's Day" from a while back. One of the handful of times I've ventured into a village like this one. 

And back to the road:

And now here’s our destination -- the “big city” of MUSANZE:  

Next stop: to the bus park, then Kigali. Hope you're excited!