Saturday, October 24, 2009


Hey all!!

Hope everybody is doing well. I'm loving it over here in Rwanda--the climate, the people, and sigh, the views are breathtaking. Lots and lots of hills for miles around are highlighted by amazing sunsets.

Ok, so down to details: I've been at training now for about 2 weeks and for the most part am really enjoying it. Ikinyarwanda is definitely the most unique language I have ever had the privilege and difficulty of learning. It seems to be a mixture of Italian, French, a little Portugese and some Japanese all meshed together in one beautifully constructed challenge of the mind. In addition, there's technical training which consists of learning how to design and present a good lesson plan to our future students. And that future is not too far away since I begin micro-teaching classes on Monday!! I'm nervous but excited to jump in and start doing some real work!

Today our group went to visit a national museum where we saw artifacts like handwoven baskets and learned how banana beer (urwagwa) is made. Afterward we took another harrowing look at the consequences of this country's sorrowful past. We visited a genocide memorial where some 50,000 victims had been murdered and subsequently buried. The memorial displays the exhumed bodies. It was a very somber experience for all.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) the bus driver decided to bring us back to reality by blaring music throughout the entire bus and only the most popular tunes played today!! This is only one example of how music is appreciated around here. Walking toward the town center one can hear the radio being blasted, whether it's talk shows or music. In fact, there is an unoccupied computer lounging in the corner of the internet cafe at this very moment, blaring one of the 3 most beloved songs (which naturally I cannot understand.)

Speaking of words: the word for "no" is "oya" pronounced like "oh yeah" basically. You can probably tell how much fun/trouble that presents for native English speakers. I have a host family, a mom who has 4 kids all in school studying. So far I've been able to hold down some dialogue with them concerning new vocabulary and whatever grammar questions pop into my head. Yeah, it's a trip every time I head over to the house--lots of charades and miming takes place which usually results in peals of laughter from them. I do my fair share of laughing too, don't get me wrong, but it is definitely a brain-drain-system-overload type of encounter each time.

Dorm house living: Our power goes out on a pretty standard basis, as of a couple of days ago I have been using the outdoor pit latrine in our back courtyard and I wash my clothes (when there's running water) in a bucket with some powder soap. Every time I leave my house there are at least one pair of eyes watching the exotic white alien creature scamper outside of her dwelling. On the way to school one day I had one woman howling with laughter at my (what I had thought) subtle dance moves to some music being blared (again: pretty normal even at 7 a.m) along the roadside. I'm really trying to put things in perspective of how different we must seem to the town locals here but it is tough, especially when I am flanked by a gaggle of children who have just found their newest plaything moving up the street: me. Sometimes it's cute but when all I want to do is walk somewhere and/or maybe hold a conversation with somebody it can be a bit of a trial.

Ok, so you may be wondering what the meaning behind the title of this entry is and I shall tell you gladly. One day last week I was walking with some friends into town during our lunch break when a woman came ambling by. As she was nearing us I noticed something in her hand that resembled an umbrella and before I knew it she had launched the object at me. Luckily, acting on matrix-like reflexes, I dodged it only to look back and see my friends huddled on the ground, tears streaming down their faces over the fact that I had just been swung at with a chicken!!

Ahh, the life of a Peace Corps Trainee in Rwanda summed up by a chicken in the face.

Peace out ya'll (yes, I do say that now)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First Few Days

Hey all! or should I say: Muraho!

I've not even been in Rwanda for a week but it already feels as if a month has gone by. So much has happened since I arrived last Thursday evening. The 36 other volunteers and I went and stayed at a nunnery for a couple of nights after flying into Kigali. As we came in there was a major storm brewing and we managed to fly over volcanoes too! Nice introduction to the country! We visited the Genocide Memorial (extremely heart-wrenching but incredibly valuable experience) and went to a charity soccer game where the players did a little dance every time they shot a goal: tres cute :)

After Kigali we drove 2 hours south to our training facility. Classes started yesterday and let me tell you--my brain hurts from overload of information. So far we've learned introductory phrases and a little technical training about TEFL etc.

I have to say that I feel like a total hotshot celebrity here--the kids follow you around yelling Msungu (white person) or some people address us in french (this used to be a francophone country but part of the reason we're here is to switch to English) or my favorite is when they say "Good Morning" at 8:30 at night! We are completely alien to these people and I've never been so blatantly stared at before in my life, I guess I'll overcome any remnant of shyness I may have!

Volunteers live in 4 houses, all divided up randomly. Every morning I've woken up at 5:45 to the sounds of goats, people talking, and a mixture of birds tweeting. Needless to say, the days are full of learning...a lot about a lot. Sorry this is so sporadic and pretty bland, I had a better one but the document could not be opened on the computers at the internet cafe.

Talk some more soon! Hope all is well back in US of A!!


Address is:
Avery Miles
Peace Corps Trainee/Rwanda
BP 5657
Kigali, Rwanda

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sup from the Jerz

Hey hey hey!!

This is a shout out from...New Jersey! Ha, so I'm still sitting here on my couch in my house but tomorrow I will be on my way out of here, heading over to the vast continent of Africa. There is orientation in Philadelphia (4 hours of cultural awareness and Peace Corps heads-up type info) after which we go straight to sleep in order to be up by 7 am the next morning for our vaccinations!! ugh... and then it's on to JFK airport from whence we fly to Brussels where we wait for our connecting flight tooooo Kigali, Rwanda!!

Ok, more later when there's actually something more to write about. :)