It is with great relief I share that all nine students have arrived safely here in Kigali! The last to arrive were four of us: Joey, Michael, Rachel, and Ramy (me). We landed at 1am and as we stepped off the plane onto the tarmac, a gentle and quiet summer breeze greeted us and seemed to whisper, “Hello and Welcome!” (“Muraho and Murakaza Neza”).
The fresh cool air was a nice change from the stuffy airplane. The calmness and coolness immediately reminded me of the summer nights I had grown used to growing up in California. In this simple and surreal moment, I felt like I was coming home.
While I’ve never been in Rwanda before, I am aware that I arrive in great company under the guise of our two professors, Helen and Chris. They have already been here a week working with the first year students at KIE and making sure that everything is set for our work with the second and third year students next week. Chris and Helen have built many meaningful relationships with the people here over the past few years. They posted on here a few days ago that the phrase they’ve heard the most often this past week is “Welcome Home.” Yes, indeed. To me, stepping off the plane and breathing in that cool air (with a hint of smokiness…like a beach barbecue) there was definitely this sense of coming home.
To be greeted at the bottom of the staircase in the airport by Chris and Phocas, the manager of the Civitas Hotel where we are staying, only added to the immense joy and relief to finally be here in Kigali. Thankfully all of our bags arrived as well!
It was so incredibly kind and generous of Phocas to stay up so late and pick us up from the airport and drive us to the hotel. Once we arrived at the hotel, Amiable, the receptionist graciously led us to our rooms and made us feel welcome and at ease. Phocas even waited to make sure we all checked in and were settled in our rooms. Chris had to encourage him to go home to his family and get some sleep! Already, the warmth and kindness of these two men that I’ve met so far has made me eager to meet more people.
I am excited for these next two weeks of working with students at the Kigali Institute of Education and the Imena Cultural Club and the Kimisagara Youth Centre. I look forward to making my own connections and building my own meaningful relationships, especially with Jean and Leon who I have heard so much about. I trust that I will be meeting them very soon.
Sorry for the long post. It is now 3:45am and I am very much wide awake. I hope to get on a better schedule before the work starts on Monday morning.
Until next time,