Monday, April 13, 2009


So I wrote a very long and detailed entry here, but, since internet here moves at the speed of a diseased snail, and cuts in and out all the time, everything was completely lost and i'm so bummed. TIA (This is Africa). Basically, I gave several presentations in Kinyarwanda to an orphanage in Nyanza along with about 6 other PCVs. It went really well. We went over basic hygiene and hydration with the kindergartners, and came back the next week to do a presentation on sexual health to the teen orphans. I really liked Nyanza and the orphanage there. We got really positive feedback from the teachers and the students, and it felt genuine. For the first time since I've been here, I really felt like I could make a difference in Rwanda.

I got a dress made for my swearing in ceremony. It's not very African looking but I think it's really beautiful. It's gold with sequins, and poofs out at the bottom. Kay, I realize this information may be very boring for some...

I passed all my tests and I'll be swearing in as a PCV on Weds. I signed the papers and everything so now it's official. We got super fancy invitations to the ceremony, which will be held at an undisclosed location ( I can't say on the blog). Anywho, I gotta finish up packing. I'll miss Butare but I'm sooo excited!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Music and News from Home

So at this point, I have recieved two packages from my mom, and I have a third on the way that I'm very excited about! I miss all the delicious food from home, so much that I dream about food almost every night. It's pretty rediculous. Just last night I had a dream that I had a plate full of delicious shrimp, and just when I had dipped it in sauce and was about to eat it, someone knocked on the door and woke me up. I was pretty pissed off. I can't even enjoy pretend food :(. Anywho, on to sunnier things.
Mom- thanks soooo much for sending me comfort items. Just seeing your handwriting on the box was such a huge relief, I actually kept the labeling for a while, much as a crazy obsessive stalker freak would. I also want to say congrats to my cousin Kevin for the job in Seattle. Mom told me a little about the job, it sounds cool. I know that you weren't planning on staying in San Fran for long, and now I have a place to crash in Seattle (I'm jumping to conclusions on this of course).
Since I dedicated a blog entry to food, I thought I'd also dedicate a blog entry to music. I have had the luxury of going to two concerts since I've been here. Well, one was a reggae concert at the stadium by the compound which was pretty cool. The other was an awards show with various performances. The musical performances at the awards show were very obviously influenced by American music videos. I didn't so much enjoy the long acceptance speeches in Kinyarwanda since I could only pick up a word here or there. The music was ok, a little too comercial/generic for my taste. It mostly included rap and R&B. What I enjoyed most was the dancing. There were some really good hip hop dancers, so even though pretty much every performer was obviously lip synching, i didn't mind. Since Rwanda is a relatively conservative country (well, outside of Kigali), it was surprising and, in a way, refreshingly familiar to see girls shake their asses in super tight outfits. What I found a bit odd was that this was supposedly a relatively fancy affair; there was actually a red carpet out front, and the artists are supposedly very well known (in Rwanda), but anyone could get tickets to this awards ceremony, and the artists who performed sat in the same seats as regular ticket buyers. There was definate cheering and jeering, but none of the locals seemed star struck the way people get in LA. I also found it odd that people would walk on and off the stage in the middle of a singer's performance.
I've also seen quite a few Rwandan music videos at this point. There are the more traditional videos that feature women or girls dancing Rwandan dances to drums while wearing conservative clothing. By contrast, the rap videos consist of quick camera shots, and often, girls shaking their ass in tight, revealing outfits. Rap culture is interesting. I feel like, generally, it used to be more about what life was like in the ghetto-- the violence, the drugs, the struggle. Today, commercial rap is all about bragging, especially showing off material posessions. It's interesting to compare American rap videos to Rwandan rap videos. While a Jay-Z or Lil Wayne video would show off an Escalade or a Benz, Rwandan rap videos show a bunch of guys hanging out by a 5 year old Honda. They're still showing off, but they're showing off what they can. I can't watch an R&B video without laughing. They're so rediculously corny, I don't understand how these people are taken seriously. This is not to say that there are not good music videos. Overall, I find them entertaining.


First and foremost, thank you for the comments, they're greatly appreciated! It feels good to have "followers" to my blog, makes me feel less cut off from the world. Thanks for toasting me Sondra, and thanks Diane and Lisa!

So i decided to dedicate one blog entry to food, since that has been a subject many people have asked questions about. Rwanda is a beautiful country with a lot of greenery. It seems like good soil for a large variety of vegetables, but for some reason, there is very little variance. If we want to go out to eat without spending a lot of money or waiting 3 hours for food (yes, it sometimes takes that long)then we go out to resteraunts and use the buffet. Most resteraunts in Rwanda have buffets, and every place I have been to in and out of Butare has had the exact same items for the buffet: French fries, plantain, rice, kassava leaves, spaghetti, kassava bread, goat meat, beans, and tomato sauce. The price varies from about 800 to 2,000 RWF (Rwandan Fracs).

The food is not spicy, but people sometimes add some "pili" ( yellow pepper sauce) which is quite strong. I've had it a few times, but i usually just mix food items together then add salt. The food we are given at the compound is fairly good by comparison to what I have had elsewhere in Rwanda, so I feel lucky. One of my favorite days here, however, was the night the kitchen staff allowed some PCVs to cook dinner! I helped shop for some items, but I stayed out of the kitchen. We had delicious pizza (that actually tasted like pizza!), and one volunteer made mass amounts of guacamole. By far the best meal I've had since I've been here, and I really want to thank all the PCVs who've helped make food here-- your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Only a few days later, we had a "Rwandan cooking" day. We were split up into groups and assigned two trainers to accompany us to the market and bargain for food. It was fun, and I learned some new vocabulary. It was also a little depressing, seeing some very sick babies next to their mothers who were selling fruit.

When I say we cooked Rwandan style, I mean we really cooked Rwandan style. We got 4 live chickens which we had to slaughter. I didn't partake in the killing of the chickens, but I watched and took pictures. It bothered quite a few of the volunteers- both the ones who partook and the ones who watched. Maybe I'm just heartless, but watching the chickens get decapitated didn't bother me. I'd never seen anything like it. First they would step on the chicken to hold it still, pluck its feathers around the neck, then cut the neck as quickly as possible. There is quite a bit of blood, and like I thought, the chicken still moves around for quite a while after its head is cut off. The knife we were given to cut the chicken's neck was dull, so it took longer than it should to perform "the duty". What happened that day would have made PETA declare world war. When a volunteer was killing the last chicken, she said "i can't do this", then suddenly let go in the middle of the act. The chicken's neck was halfway cutoff at that point, and it went flying all over the place with it's head half on. It was a pretty terrible (but entertaining) scene. People freaked out and ran when the chicken came near them-- I mean, that thing looked like one bloody airborne ball. Even one of the male teachers freaked out and ran behind the wall. After about 30 seconds or so of this, one predictable male teacher grabbed the flying chicken, took it back to the grass, and swiftly cut off the neck without flinching. Needless to say, it was an intersting day! Hopefully I haven't made my vegetarian friends throw up with this story.