In Two Weeks…

I spent the day with Helen, Chris and my fellow Rwanda-bound classmates preparing for our trip. I cannot believe we will be in Kigali in two short weeks! What I will learn from our Rwandan colleagues? To them I say “Turongera! We have some exciting sessions planned for you!”

We have been culling our notes and looking for the choicest games to share with the students at the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE). We’re taking the time to create participatory work especially for the group. Thank goodness for our guides Helen and Chris who have been there before and who drive us diligently to prepare, and prepare, and prepare. It is challenging to plan for a group you’ve never met before, in a country you’ve never been to, whose language you do not speak.  We are working to learn what we can about the group. Messages are going back and forth on Facebook. Chris and Helen are telling us stories. We are reading, reading, reading about the history and the political landscape of the country. We are learning phrases and translating words where we can. Ultimately we are going to communicate through theater. I continue to be amazed by the flexibility of the medium as a tool for teaching and learning.

Reading through articles on theater in Rwanda I am aware of our responsibility to share what we know about the tools of theater with the KIE students and learn from them how those tools can be applied. As future drama teachers they will bear the responsibility of guiding young people to decide how theater fits into Rwanda. How will the Rwandans we meet use theater to communicate with each other and with their society at large? The KIE community has already been so welcoming. I receive near daily greetings on Facebook. Some conversations have begun. As a class we are already a community and the welcoming messages from KIE are starting to merge the Rwandan community with our group of ten here in New York.

We have been reading Philip Gourevitch’s account of the genocide “We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families” and his subsequent article from The New Yorker which revisits some of the same people over a decade later. I am humbled by the courage of Rwandans to face their recent history and look at what happened in order to prevent recurrence. I have not yet been to the country and I am already learning from Rwanda. I have so much more to learn and I am hungry for it.

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