I’m a Senior(???) and Preparation for Rwanda

As celebrations and farewell parties mark the end of my third year at Northwestern, travel vaccines and hours spent browsing www.kigalilife.com (Kigali’s form of www.craigslist.com) mark the beginning of an exciting upcoming three months that promise to be drastically different from any summer vacation I’ve ever had in my life. For one thing, this summer won’t be a vacation. At least not in the complete definition of the term. I know that it will be exciting and that it will involve travel, but this summer won’t, by any means, be a suspension from work. On the contrary, I anticipate that I will be working – and working harder than I ever have – on the most meaningful and challenging project I have ever undertaken.

I’ve become increasingly aware of the amount of preparation I will need in the next month. I’ve purchased my plane tickets, gotten all the vaccines, picked up the prescriptions, received the up-to-date report on students at the Learning Centre, selected leftover books from the library book sale, etc. etc. But the closer that July 18 approaches, the more I realize how completely unprepared I am to go to Rwanda. I’ve spent three years at Northwestern and taken numerous African Studies classes which have not only taught me a great deal about Rwanda, but have also provided the opportunity for me to develop my own research projects about the country. However, I realize I still know so very little about the culture, the people, and the current political situation.

For instance, I only learned a couple months ago that the teaching of history has been banned in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide – which has had rather significant implications for the English curriculum I am developing. I also learned just two days ago that I can’t use my malaria prescription from Guatemala, because the mosquitoes in Rwanda have already become resilient to it. (This was exceedingly bad news to me since mosquitoes are at the top of my list for creatures I detest most. Anyone have suggestions for extremely powerful mosquito repellent?)

My challenge, as such, for the next two months is this: 1) to learn as much about Rwanda as I can, especially in light of the upcoming presidential election, 2) to develop an English learning curriculum for the Intermediate class.

Here’s to a busy month of learning and preparation ahead!

Congrats to everybody for finishing another year. I hope you’ll stay posted and keep in touch. All comments are welcome and greatly appreciated 🙂