Patrick, signing in for my first blog. (Not Helen!!)
WOW! What a day. It felt like 3. We got a welcome from the Vice Rector and Dean at the Kigali Institute of Education. It was very useful to hear from them directly about their vision for drama education at KIE, and what they are hoping it will be able to do in their secondary schools. It is inspiring to see people with such clear vision, and truly humbling to be a small piece of this incredible undertaking happening in Rwanda.
Today we met first year and second year students at KIE. They are an impressive lot! So open, humble, creative, inquisitive. They made us feel so welcome. It is becoming so clear that Rwanda and these students have much to teach us. There is a sense of purpose here, of solidarity, and people put their shoulder into the work. The students I spoke with articulated amazing visions for what Drama could accomplish in their communities.
Over the course of the day we did many get to know each other activities, created images, had discussions, and saw scenes that they had been working on with Helen and Chris. All of these moments were filled with the incredible lightness of spirit that beams out of the students and infects us. There was one activity that really touched me though.
Helen split us into groups, MA students formed two groups and KIE students formed two others. She then asked us to think of a song that has some meaning for us that we could teach our new collaborators. We learned an absolutely gorgeous song in Kinyarwandan that translates into, “Rwanda you are beautiful, breathe peace.” We taught them “We who believe in freedom cannot rest.” We ended singing this song in a round. It was so moving to have them break down the details of the words of the song for us. They showed such teaching acumen and patience. Evoking a song such as “Ella’s Song,” and sharing a piece of our struggle for justice and equity split me wide open. It was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had.
All day I was bursting with emotion, awe, joy, questions and purpose.
Tomorrow, Andre, Suzu, Abby, Joey and I are going to lead a playbuilding session based on a Rwandan story similar to Cinderella. With their English skills, creativity and willingness I have no doubt that it will be a beautiful time indeed.
I feel so blessed to have this experience, to learn from the people here, and to share skills, laughter and heart with our wonderful hosts.
PS. Mom, Dad, Erika, Lauren, Carlos… I’m alive and doing great! Email has been harder than I thought and we are working HARD. I love you, I’ll try to find a way to contact you more regularly. Erika, I don’t remember your new # so email it to me please! LOVE YOU!