Our program, Go-ED, lives on a compound in Remera, a district of Kigali, Rwanda. The compound includes two guesthouses, one for boys and one for girls. The boys’ house includes a library with all our textbooks and supplemental reading on East Africa, while the girls live in the bigger house with a kitchen and the porch where we eat. My favorite place on the compound is a hammock in front of the library. There are two “guard dogs,” Scout and Bubbles, but they’re absolute sweethearts. I read on the hammock at night, and Scout sits next to me so I can pet him. Another popular hangout place is the water tower, which is a great place to climb and watch the sunset, or, as some of my peers enjoy, playing the ukulele.
In the morning, we have class with Pastor Anastas Rugirangoga, who teaches us theology, history, and peace-building in the context of the 1994 genocide. Scout sits under my chair in class while I pet him with my feet. In the afternoon, Reverend Dr. Antoine Rutayisire teaches us about East African religions and culture. The main religions we study are Animism, Christianity, and Islam. Studying Animism is most interesting to me because I know so little about it, while going to a different church every Sunday and being taught by an Anglican reverend contextualizes our study of Christianity. Our last class ends at four in the afternoon. We usually spend our free time walking to local coffee shops to use Wi-Fi and do homework. I’ve discovered a new favorite drink, African tea with milk and ginger, at a café called Canaberra.
In addition to classes and exploring the beautiful city of Kigali, we have chores around the house. There is a schedule for who washes dishes every night, and we wash our laundry by hand. Our kitchen staff has Sunday off, so we are responsible for our own breakfast and receive a per diem for lunch. Two people sign up to prepare a meal of their choice on Sunday night.
Life here is busy, but every time I take a break I fear that I am missing out on a fantastic adventure. Studying abroad has taught me a lesson in pacing myself and savoring “everyday” experiences, such as trying African tea (milky ginger goodness!) or studying history where the events took place. Also, I’m here until December, so the best is yet to come!