I want to take a minute to talk about routines. In this morning’s session with Chris and Helen, the students from the University of Rwanda College of Education were introduced to the theatrical convention of ‘routines’, sequences of action that come in at least three repetitions and end with a change of some sort we call a ‘pay-off.’
Well, today was our third day with the Rwandan students and we’ve begun to establish a routine. We arrive each morning to the smiling faces of the Rwandan students and the noblest of efforts from the CUNY students to greet them with a good morning in their beautiful Kinyarwanda language. This morning’s usual routine came to a screeching halt when one of the Rwandan students informed a group of us that we were in fact using the wrong greeting when only speaking to a single person! We had been using the plural greeting to address individuals! We had a wonderful session of learning a bit of Kinyarwanda grammar and also enjoyed a good laugh together as a community.
I am realizing more and more throughout this journey that this trip is indeed about changing routines. It’s about understanding the joys of life and remembering the gift that is theatre and drama and why I fell in love with this work in the first place.
This afternoon, we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. We took an arrangement of flowers to place on the open grave there as a symbol of our respect and remembrance. This afternoon’s outing was a change in routine for our group as well. The Memorial was a much more somber experience than I have previously encountered in this vibrant country. As I found my way out of the exit of the Memorial, I stepped out onto a veranda that overlooked a beautiful amphitheater framed by the skyline of Kigali. Emerging from the Memorial, an important reminder of past events and a beautiful demand for this never to happen again, I was struck by the vitality, life, and joy I saw around me in Kigali. This amphitheater was just host to a festival celebrating original Rwandan theater last weekend. Life is going on; cars filled the streets, the flowers were blooming, the sun was setting, and children were happily skipping and even cartwheeling (I promise they were) down the sidewalks, beginning their journeys home from school, a routine they delight to partake in.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of hope I felt. This magical place has become a country of joy and laughter and one million smiles. The energy and atmosphere is one of overwhelming love and gratitude.
Personally, I was quite thankful that my routine was shaken up in so many ways today. I write this blog filled with the spirit of the beautiful Rwandan hillsides. As for this third day of our trip and the change in routine, I can only say, “what a pay-off” indeed!