Less than a week until we depart for Rwanda! We fly to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, on August 19, leaving our dear friends, family, and neighborhood in Indianapolis so we can start a new chapter. We don’t have jobs yet–it’s fiiiiine–but with our current leads, a little networking, and wowing locals with our charm, we hope to find something soon.
Why are we going?
Well, way back in middle school, I went to a program at the International School of Indiana organized by Invisible Children (https://invisiblechildren.com/). It was a hunger banquet, where the participants were divided into groups according to assigned socioeconomic classes and fed a meal according to their class (i.e. if you were labeled as “poor” you were only served rice, middle class was served a bigger meal, and the small few in the upper class were served a several course meal). Then Invisible Children showed a video about their cause, I learned that there was suffering in the world, and I became inspired to learn more about the country of Africa. (That’s a joke. There are 54 countries in Africa, come on y’all.)
I read and watched everything I could get my hands on regarding Africa: the classics (Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness–although Conrad left me thoroughly unimpressed), stories about child soldiers (Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier), memoirs (Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight), books on the history of colonization and the Congo–both fictional (Barbara Kingslover’s The Poisonwood Bible–my favorite book of all time!) and non-fiction (Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost, Jason Stearns’ Dancing in the Glory of Monsters–both phenomenal, easy-reading nonfiction books about Congo), books on the Rwandan genocide (Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, Naomi Benaron’s Running the Rift), academic books (Mahmood Mamdani’s When Victims Become Killers, Ferguson’s Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order–both stellar but dense), movies (“Hotel Rwanda,” “Beyond the Gates,” “Blood Diamond”). And so many more (check out: Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, and Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One). Add some of these to your reading lists if you’re interested in learning more 🙂
I eventually studied abroad in Rwanda in 2013 and fell in love outside of books and movies. I stayed four months with an amazing host family and studied the country’s post-genocide restoration and peace-building process up close. Being in a country that’s experienced terrible genocide and studying the systematic killing of nearly 1 million people is tough stuff but I truly felt at home during my time there. I have a whole blog from that experience–if you’re super bored and want to learn more, feel free to peruse my musings from the first trip (http://leslie-in-rwanda.blogspot.nl/).
Moving to Rwanda, I am excited to embrace an alternative lifestyle (universal healthcare system?! Little concern for credit scores?! Saving water by taking bucket showers?!!) I also believe that I am my best self while traveling and/or living in another place. I challenge myself more, I am more open minded about new, unfamiliar practices and am not as quick to judge, I am more adventurous and ready to embrace uncertainty.
Why is Colin going?
Well, there’s nothing like a huge, life-changing event such as moving to Africa to really solidify a marriage. No seriously, he’s excited, too, and plans on blogging about the experience as well 🙂
We hope to stay in Kigali to be closer to my host family but it’s entirely dependent on work. Colin has got some good options with freelance website development work and a potential tech-related position with the Akilah Insitute (https://www.akilahinstitute.org/). I’ve been interviewing with a school for an ESL teaching/college readiness position (http://www.maranyundo.org/) and a reproductive health org called Society for Family Health (http://www.sfhrwanda.org/). I hope to find work in the public health field, preferably doing reproductive health education, and I have a long list of NGOs that I plan to visit, resume in hand, upon arrival. But… if Kigali doesn’t pan out, we have some contacts in Uganda as well, so after a month or so of networking, we may head up north to Uganda.
As soon as we have internet/phone access, we’ll let y’all know. We’ll miss everyone so so much but hope that you’ll keep in touch! It’s only an ocean away and everyone has a place to stay if you decide to make the trip! Much love, we’ll blog again soon.