Porter, Kaija, and Adam: Rwanda – Blog Post #2

Community in Rwanda

Hello! It’s Porter, Kaija, and Adam, and we are still in Rwanda (thanks again CGH)! This past week we had to say goodbye to our dear friends Emily and Alice as they travel back to the States. As a result, we switched up our housing situation and relocated from Kacyiru to Remera.

The bad news: this house isn’t quite as nice as the palatial abode we shared with Emily and Alice.

The good news: the new house is right behind our favorite pizza place, Sole Luna.

As you can see, it’s not all bad. Instead of hanging out in our new house, we’ll just be eating a lot of pizza. Nothing to complain about there. As we begin the last week of Adam’s stay in Rwanda, we want to look back on the ways we’ve gotten involved with the Kigali community outside of our research. When spending over a month in a country, its important to get to know the area and people you will be interacting with. Here are a few anecdotes and pictures of such experiences!

 

Sole Luna Trivia

As we mentioned, we love our Sole Luna. The pizza is delicious (we are currently on a four day pizza streak) and the setting is scenic. Yet another perk is the weekly trivia game the restaurant hosts. Much like Charlottesville’s own Mellow Mushroom Trivia, teams enjoy food and company while answering a series of trivia questions. Winner gets free food and the job of hosting next week’s game.

Our first performance was nothing to write home about. Our team, “Shia Surprise”, came in a solid 8th place out of 10 teams. But this early performance was not indicative of our ability to know useless information.

A week later, our team strolled in with a new name and unfounded confidence. Team “Edna Mode (and Guest)”, a reference to the Disney-Pixar classic The Incredibles, quickly labeled the six world landmarks pictured on the front of our trivia sheet. Then, as each question was read off, we answered with the confidence of Michael Phelps in a kiddy-pool. To Adam’s extreme joy, there was a question about his hometown – Cleveland. To Adam’s extreme ire, the question was followed by a series of insults directed at said hometown. But nonetheless, the results were in and “Edna Mode” came out on top.

Winning wasn’t everything (but it sure was close). Sole Luna Trivia also gave us a chance to interact with the vibrant ex-pat community of Kigali. The event brings together Americans, Europeans, and Australians to take a few moments outside the busy life of Kigali and enjoy some good-humored questions about their own cultures. It’s not only a ton of fun, but also a way to relax and laugh as if you’re back home.

 

Noella’s Graduation Party

Porter, who was in Rwanda two summers ago, introduced the rest of the microHub team to his friend, Noella. Noella recently graduated from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and graciously invited the whole team to her graduation party. After a very confusing taxi ride, Porter, Kaija, and Adam finally arrived at Noella’s house.

Expectation: A party similar to an American graduation party. Full of noisy relatives, lots of food, and obnoxious guests.

Reality: Not that.

When we walked into the main sitting room of the house, the entire room was filled with relatives and friends sitting on chairs. But no one was talking – they all sat and ate silently. We were offered food, and followed the rest of the guests’ leads by sitting and eating silently. Soon, speeches in Kinyarwanda began. A series of preachers spoke to Noella’s accomplishments and thanked everyone for coming. Next was Noella, who started by introducing everyone at the party to everyone else. She then started sharing stories from her life and college experiences. Noella had lost both her parents and her brother, and the church had adopted her. She was accepted into a special scholarship program at KIST, one of only 40 students in all of Rwanda. She talked about how she balanced her education with starting a small business and maintaining involvement in her professional dance troupe. Noella’s impressive accomplishments are only outdone by her extreme humility. Her speech was emotional and personal, something not often seen at a casual American graduation party. She welcomed us into her home, her family offered food and drink, and we were lucky enough to share in a special moment in Noella’s life.

We will be forever thankful for this opportunity, and won’t soon forget our new friend Noella.

 

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Niyo Cultural Centre

Back in our house in Kacyiru, one of our neighbors was the Niyo Cultural Centre. Niyo teaches impoverished children how to dance and paint so that they can earn money to pay for education and medical expenses. Alice and Emily introduced our team to the weekly dance practices put on by the local children. We got to know the drummers, the artists, and the kids, all of whom welcomed us with smiles and laughter. Each practice, the children would pull us up from the ground and show us some of their dance moves. Of all our experiences in Kigali, this was definitely the one that made us feel most part of the community. Beyond the traditional dances, the artwork inside Niyo was amazing. The paintings were impressive and the sculptures were both thought provoking and realistic. Niyo was a source of hope for the local community, and it was incredibly rewarding to be able to see the good it does.

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Signing Off!

That’s all from the microHub team! Thank you so much for following along with our experiences. We would like to thank the CGH one last time for making this life-changing journey possible. Rwanda is a welcoming and beautiful country, and we are so grateful we were able to spend our summer here.

 

Murakoze!

 

-Porter, Kaija, and Adam

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