friends and family and potential other readers, it has been a long time.
Let me be frank for a moment and delve into the various reasons why:
- We have been unimaginably busy.
- We have been unimaginably busy, and traveling every weekend for the past 2 months. [that is a 6-12 hr round trip, depending on where we are going. This past weekend was a 12 hr one-way trip!]
- The more potent- we are homesick. and it is easier not to think about it.
Some days it really feels like we are on the Dark Continent. In many ways we have found it to be not so dark, and in fact a lovely place full of beauty and growth. It is dark, because it’s far. It feels dark when a twinge of homesickness hits at the strangest place. There are very few days where my brain has the time or desire to focus on my friends and family at home for the entire day. Rather, it comes as a shooting stomach-flopping instant and passes swiftly leaving feelings of emptiness and daze. I’m facing it and I’ll say it now. I miss you.
I miss hearing about your afternoon picnic, your new recipe, your Frisbee game, your walk in the park, your new pair of shoes, the spring birds, the job stress, the lattes, the new music artist you’ve found. I miss the trivial and the vital. I miss it all.
Maybe you don’t know what to say. Because you think my life must be interesting than yours, or that I should be the one sharing, or that what you have to say is menial, or that it will make me homesick, or that I’ve forgotten about you. Madam and sir: none of those things are true. I miss you and I love you.
On to the other reasons, and the objective of the blog: for me to share what is happening here!
By golly gee, can I say a lot!
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
- COMMUNITY ENGLISH CLUB: from 4 to 8 members!
- TEACHER’S ENGLISH CLUB: more women participation!
- GLOW: going fine, my membership is overwhelmingly younger girls, which is fine but I want some older ones to be role models. We learned about peer-pressure last week. We are having a GLOW CAMP this August in our District!!!! Aaron and I have a big leadership role in the camp [numbers 2 & 3] and I think it is going to change lives and benefit the western part of the country. More to come.
- ENGLISH CLUB: also great. Good membership, consistent. However, guess what? We are going to write a musical and perform it in 1.5 months!!!!!! *insert circus music. It is ambitious. Especially in a country where theatre doesn’t exist and my kids have literally never seen or heard of a musical. They do love corny songs, dance, and skits- so I’m anticipating perfection.
- CURRICULUM PROJECT: wow. Finished. A 500 pg document of lesson plans, resources, and an organized cohesive path towards English in the ordinary level. Finished! I am proud because it was a dream [and I am great at dreaming!], which I accomplished [which I am not as great at]. It was a big project, and it is imperfect, but I think it will change the way Ed PCVs in Rwanda work [now all of that time spent lesson planning can be used for secondary projects investing in their community] it will change the way Rwandan English teachers work [they are field testing our lessons, and using learner centered methodology, differentiated learning, content-based lessons, and a variety of teaching techniques, many for the first time] it will potentially change the Rwandan National Curriculum [we took the document they made in 1999 and adjusted it to flow more fluidly] and will potentially go to other PC countries, so they can adjust the material to their country’s context, and will potentially get to the Rwandan Ministry of Education! Those are goals, and unfortunately not ones I will see achieved. Originally we wanted to take the document to the Min of Ed when we finished it, but we want all of the lessons to be field-tested first- which will take 1 full school year. I have passed on the project to the new Ed group of PCVs, and they will perfect it next year. It is hard to describe the work that went into the project, and unfortunately it isn’t something my neighbors or people I pass on the street can see- but it is something that will benefit the country and PC and I am quite pleased with it.
- JUDGES: We are still teaching the judges and court staff of the Western Province once a month. I think I have mentioned it before. It is a big deal, but difficult to explain.
- THE HOSPITAL: We have started teaching English at the hospital, finally. They are very appreciative of our lessons and it is also widening our range of potential friends.
- SPORTS: Last year during this time there were a lot of sports. We seem to have forgotten that. Aaron is a superstar here in Murunda! He has been invited to play on the teams of the hospital, the parish, and both school’s teacher teams! It is a really great sign of being integrated into the community to be invited by all arenas to play. We played against the district mayor too, a big-wig, who personally congratulated Aaron. Some imagery for you- imagine a sea of black faces in the crowd and on the court, and then Aaron. Tall. White. Aaron. It’s a moment in which our differences and similarities are starkly apparent. And it’s wonderful.
- PC NEWS: We have a new country director- or big boss. So, that is going to change things up a bit. We will miss our old CD but are also impressed with the new one so far.
- ITALY: Prego! We went. and it was sooooooooo blissfully delicious and delightful. Num num num. Please everyone, save your money- and spend all of those savings in Italy. Forget a retirement plan, go to Italy and you will gain 5 years of life. The food is outrageous and plentiful. The wine, a treat. The gelato, heaven-sent. And the buildings. Every detail is deliberately fascinating. The window panes, the alleyways, the colors, the roofs. And turn the corner and greet the Parthenon! It’s there, amid the shopkeepers and street artists. It is all there. And being with my mom was so comforting and good! It was easy to snap out of volunteer mode and enjoy Italy with their kind generosity. We also went on a hunt for her husband, Steve’s, family, which resulted in some fun translation enigmas, beautiful scenery in Sicily, some great food, great wine, great people [the Itallian norm] and some free limoncello! I could go on and on and on, but the important thing is that we were with family and we found some rest.
- GORILLAS: Aaron got slapped by a gorilla. That is all.
- GORILLAS [cont.]: It was awesome. We went to Virunga National Park in the North Western Province to trek for gorillas. It is one of 2 mountain ranges in the world this is possible on [the other being our neighbor the Congo]. They were incredible. They looked like clumsy people in gorilla costumes, jumping around, playing games with each other, resting, eating, cuddling. In our gorilla family we saw about 15-20 total. 3 silverbacks [larger than imagined, beautiful, powerful] several mommas [also larger than imagined, beautiful, and powerful] many adolescents, and even some wee babes. We were about 2-7 meters away from them at all times, but in one instance a gorilla separated from the group and on his way back Aaron and I were in it’s pathway and rather than walking around us he slapped Aaron in the back to move him out of the way! Aaron had a muddy gorilla handprint on his raincoat. Not many people can say that. It was fascinating to be in a natural habitat like that, and also fascinating to be in a completely different ecosystem in Rwanda- so near to our home. It was full of bamboo and thick vegetation, and tall canopies of trees.
UBU INGUBU [the now future]
I think there isn’t much more to say. questions, curiosities? send them my way and I try my best to answer promptly.
[just read through this, and it’s wordier than usual and compressed a bit. Sorry! I promise for a better read next time. This was a catch up.]
deanne, aaron, cute little igi