Wow, has it been a long time since I’ve posted on here or what? It looks like its time for some serious catch-up. Let’s rewind allllll the way back to Thanksgiving…
(que Wayne’s World flashback music- bee-da-li-do, bee-da-li-do, bee-da-li-do)
I spent Thanksgiving at my friend Gillian’s house with one other volunteer and a friend of Gill’s from the US who had just finished her Peace Corps service in Antigua. We thought way more people were going to come, so we loaded up on food in a big way. Wednesday and Thursday were spent almost entirely comatose after we ate WAY too much food. Thanksgiving dinner was turkey-less this year, but we did make stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gooey pumpkin cake. It was just about as good a Thanksgiving as it is possible to have outside of the USA, although I do miss family Thanksgivings back in Baltimore.
After Thanksgiving, I got to go back home for a whopping day and a half before heading out to our GLOW Camp! GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World, which is the girls version of the camp I did back in July. All in all, we were 7 PCVs, 7 Jr. Facilitators, and about 50 campers. This time, I was working as a facilitator, not just as an administrator. This means I was the leader of a group of 10 girls with 1 Junior Facilitator. other camps in Rwanda and around the world, adult host-country facilitators help to manage the campers and to give lessons. For our Nyamagabe regional camp, we took a different tack and had only Jr. Facilitators, all of whom were model campers from last year who we invited back to help with camp this year. It was the first year anyone has tried this, as far as we know, and it went really well. I think this is a good model to help make the camps more sustainable, since we are giving our best girls the chance to continue working on their leadership skills. Anyway, camp was very hectic, but incredibly fun. We had an awesome group of girls, and I am excited (although also intimidated) at the prospect of being one of the head administrators of the camp next year.
After camp, two other Volunteers came back to my site with me and we hung out for the weekend. We took a played some basketball, watched some movies, took a short walk in the forest, and just generally relaxed after a long week at camp. I always like hosting, so that was nice.
Education 4 Swear-In
The following weekend, I went in to Kigali for the swearing-in ceremony of Education 4, the new group of teaching volunteers in PC Rwanda. It was great to be able to see them swear in, especially after spending two weeks with them during their training. As a group, they still seem to be full of energy and in general seem like they will be strong volunteers. I’m happy to have them serving in country with me. After swear in, we naturally went out on the town to celebrate. There was much rejoicing.
Marking Finals Papers
The third week in December was the last full week my students had to work on their final research papers. Since all of our other teachers were visiting Mweka Wildlife College on a study trip, I was the only teacher left around to help out with the research papers. This means that between Monday morning and Thursday afternoon, I read and made comments on 12 papers averaging around 40 pages each. Needless to say the week was very busy! In general, the students have took their papers in the right direction, although some of them still had a lot of work to be done during this week.
Near the end of December, I had another visitor from my training group, Charlie. He is the oldest member of our group, and a very interesting guy. He served in Vietnam, was a volunteer in East Africa in the 70s, and since then has been all over the place. For a long time, he was a college professor in Indiana, teaching African history and development. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and I always like getting the chance to talk with him. In a lot of ways, Peace Corps ends up feeling like carpel-tunnel of the brain, since I end up having the exact same conversation what feels like hundreds of times a week, so it is always nice to be able to sit with someone and have real conversations. On Saturday, we got a ride into the park and hiked one of the trails. We had great luck at the beginning of the hike and got to see a few monkeys and some Great Blue Turacos, which are these great blue birds the size of a small turkey. Half way through, it started raining, but that only seems appropriate since Nyungwe is a rainforest.
As you may have gathered, my students just finished with their two years at KCCEM. After they finalized their research papers, they each presented their projects to their classmates and a panel of lecturers. Then on Friday, Dec 21st, we held a graduation ceremony for them in Kigali. This actually worked out perfectly for me, because I had already planned to be leaving that weekend for our vacation to Zanzibar. At this point the trip still seems a little surreal; I hadn’t left Rwanda for 15 months. I was excited to be going with a great group of friends… and to go swimming. The graduation ceremony was good, although a little anticlimactic, partially because my head was already in the bus on the way to Zanzibar. I still see some of my students from time to time- the four that work in Nyungwe Park near my school. While I’m going to miss the old students, it will be interesting to have a new group too, although also quite challenging. We will have students from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and of course Rwanda in the next intake. I have no idea what there levels of English will be, but it is a safe bet to say that there will be a wide range of abilities.
So that’s the gist of the last three months of my life- stay tuned for a more in-depth look at my trip to Zanzibar, which should be coming soon to an internet browser near you.