Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teaching, Umuganda, and HALLOWEEN Rwanda Style


Here's a quick update of what's been going on lately. Last week I began teaching!! The children are on their holiday now so we have ample amounts of kids coming by to be taught by the crazy Americans. To sum up, I was terrified to fall flat on my face the first day and the one time I went over time because I forgot to factor in time for teaching the game of Bingo, I did actually spaz out a little bit...but all's well. On Friday I taught "We're going on a Trip" which was a lot of fun. Well, at least I had fun pretending that the class and I were going on a vacation and taking various items with us. Not sure if anything of the information sank into their brains but that's going to be the case probably more often than not. I've definitely come to realize that my future will be one huge roller coaster ride.

My language skills have been put to the wayside in all this teaching action so in addition to picking up the necessary skills to conduct a decent lesson to Rwandan kids I need to improve my language proficiency to at least a point where I can ask people why they want to swing a chicken at my face!! Haha, still laughing at that one. Glad that ya'll got a kick out of it! But seriously, I spent all day Sunday with my host family which meant that at 9 am, three minutes after waking up (the latest I've ever slept here btw) I got a call from some man who said that, "Mama wants you home." That was it. I stared at the phone for 2.3 seconds before realizing that I was supposed to race up the street to meet my host mother in order to travel to Butare to meet my host sisters. So I booked it, naturally. I'm not averse to looking strange on the streets here anymore, kind of forced to overcome it. My host mother and I traveled the half an hour by bus to the boarding school where Mimi and Mafubo (nickname for Beatrice) go to school. It was lovely meeting them. I was thrilled that they spoke a little English and even more excited when I learned that they will be coming home for their school break in a week!! Yay, family. Mimi was adorable when she said (in her flawless English of course) I'm so excited!! And when I looked at her quizzically she explained that she was happy to finally meet me. Me too!!

So what's umuganda, you ask?? Well, it's what 35 Peace Corps Trainees do on Halloween. Ok, not enough information, it's community work that takes place at the end of every month and is basically awesome. We got out there and there wasn't much going on except for the spectacle that appeared on the horizon as the parade of Msungus came into view. And then the real fun began. We were instructed to transport dirt from a huge, gaping hole in the ground to where a new part of the local school is being built. It was an amazing experience. I loved the physical work, as well as getting out and meeting some of the locals. Apparently the Mayor liked us too, he said that we were hard workers and that the women were especially appealing! eek! haha

Speaking of eek, Halloween definitely happened here in Rwanda last weekend!! I went as an umucuraguzi or a night dancer. NOT the American interpretation of that but the Rwandan version: it really means a maniacal witchdoctor who dances outside of people's windows during the middle of the night. This I found out the day that we received our Kinyarwanda dictionaries (which are of no use except if you want to talk about beekeeping or dirty secrets..) and a friend flipped to the page that said night dancer. And then there was the talent show where my house did an episode from "It's always Sunny in Philadelphia"...very hilarious for those who know and love the show and very odd for those who don't know it all. All in all, a very pleasant holiday had by all.

I'm going to go finish up my lesson plan for tomorrow's class--the kids are going to take surveys of each other's favorite things. woo hoo, getting pumped for 50 minutes in front of 20-75 kids (the numbers vary, as do the grade levels)

Love you all!!

Ijoro ryiza (Good night) :))


  1. Yay Avery!!! These are great, keep 'em coming, so glad to hear how upbeat and optimistic you are, you are the best!

  2. Hey Beautiful,

    Thanks for the update . . . BUT: can you please get some pics up somewhere soon?? And can you please start working on a list of school supplies that you need for your kids? Miss nd love you Ave Didds. :D


  3. AV - yes, the teaching biz is not as easy as I used to think. We love your blog, but I agree that some pics would enhance the experience.

  4. Hey Avery,

    I'm not sure you remember me, I definitely know your mom from Falcon Ridge Festival. I've been doing a lot of work with Rwanda through my medical school. Hit me up if you want some contacts of good people in butare or kigali.

    Rock on,
    cameron.bass at jefferson dot edu

  5. everything sounds so great avy!! keep up the great work! love and look forward to your blogs! miss you tons! xxo <3 meg

  6. I must say, it sounds like your Halloween was much more exciting than mine seeing as how I didn't do anything!!! LAME!!! I'm so glad you're able to keep us all updated so frequently and I looove the pictures!! I definitely feel the need to come visit so I'm gonna need to get a couple extra jobs and start saving now if I want to make it before you come back...no big!

  7. Avery, this is Aunt Debbie- I'm using Lauren's account. I love reading and hearing about your adventure! It looks like a beautiful country. The teaching will get easier. Thanks for the pictures. You look like you are having fun! Your mom and dad were here last night and left for Ohio this morning. I missed your company! The flowers you planted this summer are still blooming. They are our last hurrah of summer! We love you honey! Aunt Debbie, Uncle Mark, Lauren, Harry and Lucy!