I’ve now been in Rwanda for a month and some weeks now and I think it’s safe to say that I’m just beginning to finally settle in (a more insightful post to follow in the coming days). I’ve experienced more culture shock here than I ever did in the States. At first, I fought the changes, more or less. As someone who left my parents’ home at 18 and someone who has gotten used to starting over in new places, braving the new and unknown on my own while never experiencing homesickness, Rwanda was beginning to change all that. I found myself missing home, missing people I had rarely seen even when we were in the same country. The odd thing being missing a country that I didn’t realize had become my home, even if I still felt like an “other” at times.
The pictures below show my home here in Rwanda. I live in Kacyiru, a neighborhood full of government offices and various NGO headquarters. It’s peaceful here (despite what you may have read in the news). When I’m not at work, I’m usually dwelling here in this very garden. Sometimes with my head buried in a book. Sometimes lost in my thoughts. It’s quiet here, except for the birds, but I don’t mind them. My mind doesn’t race as much as it did in the States. I find myself feeling much calmer, less anxious about things. I’m also writing and journaling more. I’ve read more books during my time here than the last 3 years put together. I feel like I’m slowly getting back to the parts of me I’d long forgotten.
In a few days, I’ll be turning 26. This will be the first birthday I celebrate in this country since I was 5.
Anyway, until next post.
On Saturday August 24, I was invited to my first fashion in Kigali, held at Papyrus. It was Joselyne Umutoniwase’s Spring 2014 unveiling and I had such a good time and met lots of beautiful and good people. Take a look. I must get my hands on some of these looks. Check her out here and make sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
See a video of all of the styles on my Tumblr photoblog here.
RWANDA has always been on my mind.
After 17 years away, I came to visit the country during the summer of 2011, one year before I was supposed to finish my master’s degree at USC. After close to a month of roaming the hilly country, visiting family in Kigali, Ruhengeri, Gitarama and Gisenyi, I didn’t want to leave when it came to say goodbye. Again.
So I promised myself that one day and anyone who would listen that I would find my way back. I mentioned it here and I alluded to it in numerous tweets, Facebook posts and conversations with friends, family and colleagues and I tried to remain patient hoping the universe would conspire to help me get what I want. Just as I’d read in The Alchemist, it was only a matter of time.
In me, I felt the need not only to get to know my roots, but to one day contribute to the growth of the country. How? I wasn’t sure. But like English novelist Margaret Drabble once said, “when nothing is sure, everything is possible.” That quote has always brought me comfort.
Fast forward to today, I write my first post while sitting in my new neighborhood in Kacyiru, Kigali. What brings me here? A great work opportunity as the Educational Liaison for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, working primarily to promote the use of their online educational tool, IWitness, throughout the country. What also brings me here is the chance to get to know my country, my family, my roots and perhaps, myself. While I’ll be making a few trips back to the States, my focus remains on this small East African country. Rose in Rwanda was created to chronicle my adventures throughout the country and this time around, I thought I would do so largely through photos. Taking a pause from La Rwandaise, Rose in Rwanda will be my new online home while I’m in the country and I invite you along for the ride.
For each and everyone of you who supported me in this decision, and you know who you are, I thank you.
If you’re ever here, look me up and we’ll grab some brochettes and beer. Until next post.