Dear Readers…

As my final days in Rwanda wind down, I’ve been feeling a growing frenzy and desperation to document and write about the experiences I haven’t yet discussed. It isn’t just the end of my trip that is starting to sink in, it’s also the growing realization that the end of my stay in Rwanda will imply the death of this blog.

And I am not ready to let go of either.

Prior to this summer, I had never kept such a public forum for my thoughts, and – to be honest – I didn’t think anyone would read my writing. Two reasons: one, I doubted my stiff, English-major prose would appeal to the masses; two, my long hiatus from writing led me to think that I probably wouldn’t be writing too much this summer.

Clearly, I was wrong about both.

For the most part, I’ve refrained from talking too much about myself on this blog, and focused on documenting my experiences. However, over the past two months, I feel as if I’ve really gotten to know you, my Readers, to the point that I feel comfortable sharing with you a little of my own story. You see, I have a rather sensitive and strained relationship with writing. I used to write a lot – I kept a diary, a prayer journal, I wrote stories, poems, compositions, etc. Writing has always been a very personal and important medium of expression for me. Sophomore year, I seriously considered applying for the Major in Writing at Northwestern University. But then, last March, something unexpected happened that completely shook my identity and changed the course of my college career. Without knowing myself, I no longer had a voice; without a voice, I could no longer write. Except for formulaic English essays and research papers, I stopped writing entirely.

Until this summer.

Prompted by the Immersion Experience Grant and the encouragement of others, I started writing again. But it wasn’t easy. Look back at the beginning of my blog if you want to see the definition of awkward writing. I’d become so entrenched in composing English papers that I’d completely forgotten how to write. However, ever since I arrived in Rwanda and started living, breathing, absorbing – I’ve also started writing. And through writing, I’ve come to learn and realize a great deal about myself. Sounds cliché, I know, but it’s true.

Anyway, I know we don’t have much longer before we have to say good bye, so I wanted to take this opportunity to

THANK YOU. ALL OF YOU.

I never thought that I would have so many people reading my blog, and I am completely blown away by the sheer amount of support and encouragement I’ve received in the past two months. I originally wrote to share my experiences with family and friends, but I’ve come to realize that this blog has reached a much wider audience than I had anticipated and acquired the greater purpose of informing, teaching, and challenging perceptions on Rwanda and Africa as a whole. I am so encouraged whenever I see that someone has learned through my writing and has been touched by my experiences. Some of you have also offered very helpful advice for my teaching and lesson plans. Even though I don’t know 80% of you, I can’t tell you how much your comments have meant to me. Many times, I’ve wanted to respond, but I feel funny posting comments on my own blog … so hopefully, when I get time, I’ll respond to each of you individually through email.

So THANK YOU again.

I will write an official “Good bye” post later, but here are some final words for this one:

If you’ve taken anything from my blog, please…

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Don’t forget about the students at the Learning Centre.

Don’t forget about the up-and-rising film industry.

Don’t forget about Rwanda.

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Always question media presentations of Africa.

Don’t accept general perceptions. (They’re nearly always wrong).

Challenge yourself to be informed and to know the truth.

Don’t be satisfied otherwise.

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LOVE,

Lydia