Today was our last full day together in Rwanda. We drove for three hours through the countryside to reach Lake Kivu, where we took pictures of sparkling blue water surrounded by rolling hills that disappear into mist. When I get home and show you these pictures, you might think you understand what I mean when I say Rwanda is beautiful. But trust me, you won’t.
The pictures will not capture how the air smelled like eucalyptus and campfire. The pictures will not capture the sounds of the songs we have sung or the joy of the dances we have danced. The pictures will not capture the warmth of greeting 80 students with a hug every morning. The pictures will not capture the spicy sweetness of the African tea I have had each day with breakfast. The pictures will not capture the deep satisfaction of sharing my love of theatre with those who are experiencing it for the very first time. The pictures will not capture the amazement and confusion that comes from finding such beauty and happiness in a place where a genocide occurred only 21 years ago.
When I tell you that Rwanda is beautiful, what I will be trying to express is that this place has changed me in ways that I have wanted to change. I am leaving here more confident in my abilities as an artist and educator. I am leaving here more open hearted. I am leaving here more attuned to the complicated nature of human beings and more dedicated to reshaping my own communities with acts of love. Though I may be leaving beautiful Rwanda, I am bringing so much of it back home.