Today was our final day in Rwanda. After two weeks of working, we took the day off to relax and unwind by Lake Kivu in Kibuye (roughly a three hour ride West of Kigali). The views were incredible, and we were able to take many stunning photographs, both of the lake and the beautiful Rwandan countryside. We also visited a picturesque church in Kibuye that was the site of a massacre during the 1994 genocide. Although there was a small memorial to the more than 11,000 people who died there, the church still functions and runs Sunday services.
Having such a lovely and soothing last day here has made it no less easy to leave. After only a short time apart from them, I already miss the students from KIE. The work we did together was some of the most rewarding and exciting I have done in my life. Although we have accomplished much, it also feels as if our friendships have just begun. Knowing what we have been able to do and create in just two short weeks makes me yearn for more. How much more could we learn from each other if we had just a little more time? What could we have created in another week, a month, or more? The talent and commitment of the KIE students has been incredible, making the possibilities for additional collaboration and learning seem endless.
Our time in Rwanda has been so rich. The love and welcome I have felt during my stay has been immense, and it will not be forgotten. Already, I hope for a chance to return to this place, but I cannot say for certain what the future holds. One thing I know, however, is that the more I travel, the more I realize that I have left pieces of my heart in special places around the world—or perhaps it is the other way around; the places I have grown to love become a part of who I am. In either case, Rwanda is no exception. As my classmate, Dianna, said at last night’s farewell dinner/ceremony, “these memories are etched on our hearts.”
In just a few short hours, I’ll be winging my way back to America. Despite this, I will not say that this is “goodbye.” Whether or not we are physically in Rwanda, I think I speak for us all when I say that I know that this land and its people will always be with us.