Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thanksgiving was awesome! All of the PCVs got together (minus 4-- still a really good turnout) and made food at the Peace Corps office. There was a turkey (freshly slaughtered thanks to Ahmed) mashed potatoes, grean beans, sweet potatos with marshmallows, mac and cheese, AMAZING stuffing and "cranberry sauce" made from pineapples, orange rinds and lime-and of course, apple pie from scratch and some cakes. Also hummas and pita bread. Ugh, really wish I'd taken the initiative and brought tupperwear to take some home! We also had tons of wine and beer. Anywho, it was the first Thanksgiving I'd spent without my parents, so I was glad to be with my PC family. It really was special.

Afterwards, a bunch of us decided to burn off the mass amounts of calories accumulated from Thanksgiving food by going clubbin'! It was at a club I usually don't like, but it was actually really fun! Since it was a weekday, there were way less people, and there was a really good DJ and some really good dancers bustin moves. There were a bunch of us Peace Corps volunteers, plus friends of ours, and we danced and drank the night away. One of my friend told me that the prostitutes (that are abundant at this club) don't charge money- which launched a debate as to whether or not they're even prostitutes. Apparently a lot of them are looking for sugar daddys. The first hit is free, but afterwards she'll be calling you and showing up at your doorstep to pay for this or for that. Some of them are looking for a green card and a better life. I still don't know if I'd call that prostitution though, I feel like it needs to be tit for tat (money directly for sex) for it to count-- everything else is just slutty behavior and financial dependence. On that note, I gotta get back to work! Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Oh, and thanks Mom for calling me--I love you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Home, New Job!

So I can finally break the silence now that it’s official—I have switched organizations and domiciles. I now work for Never Again, a really awesome organization established in 2002 to promote conflict resolution, specifically among youth. Never Again exists in several countries, but of course, I’m working for Never Again: Rwanda. I’m really excited to be working for them. It’s a new organization but is well established, and officially became an NGO last year. The staff is small but NAR has so many projects. My supervisor told me I’ll be wearing different hats while working for them, but that’s more than fine with me! My official title is theater coordinator and part-time English instructor. I will also help to update the NAR website from time to time, as well as edit the newsletter. The people I work with are incredibly nice and professional—it’s almost like being back in America. On the first day, my colleagues taped a welcome poster above my desk, and have done so many favors for me since. I feel lucky and incredibly grateful. I just hope I don’t disappoint them, I’m definitely a little nervous.

I now live in a more central, urban location. It’s definitely less Peace Corps-ish, but it’s beautiful and comfortable. Can you tell Im happy?
The weekend went relatively well. I unfortunately wasn’t able to see my relative who was in town as he had trouble coming back into the country from the Congo (Visa issues). He’s a doctor who was working on a project in Goma, but flew in and out from Kigali. By the time I got a hold of him, he was already about to board the plane back. Such is life.

I got to talk on the radio! So NAR does a radio show every other Saturday, and my first Saturday working with them was going to be a show day. I decided to come along because I wanted to see what it was all about. I only meant to observe, but they gave me the opportunity to talk on the air which was pretty cool. The theme of their discussion was about human rights, what it means, etc. I was nervous at first but it’s actually pretty easy to talk on the radio because you don’t see your audience, it’s basically just you sitting down and talking into a mic. One thing I learned is that the microphone is heavily magnified, and EVERY little movement you make is heard on the air, which is why the radio announcer was getting irritated when some of the participants shifted papers around or whispered to each other.

I know my contribution to the show was very small, but I walked out of the station on a high. It really feels good to be a part of this.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pros and Cons

Like I said before, I'm in a transition period right now, which therefore makes my ups and downs here go even more out of wack. I'll explain more about my transition soon (maybe even tomorrow!) Instead of writing a real entry, thought I'd write a list of pros and cons of living here. Sorry if this bores you, but this is more for me than for anyone else. Helps me get a better idea of how I feel about being here. I think I'm happy, but sometimes, I don't know...

1. Living in the main province.Being in a central,
urban location makes my life here
so much easier. Better access to resources.

2. My neighbors. Some of them in
particular anyway. It's nice to
finally be past that "a white person
is here so she must be rich", having
people try to rip me off, but now actually
giving me the real price. It means they
respect me and look at me more as one of
them. I definitely have a good group of
friends here, all ages, religious
backgrounds, and genders, who hang
out outside my house or who buy me a
beer at the local bar. I learn way more
from them about Rwandan history and
culture than I could ever learn from
any book (which are usually written
by foreigners visiting the country)

3. The kids in my hood. They're
just so nice and friendly.
They're always happy to see me
and greet me. All they ask for
is a hug. They brighten my day.
I have also developed a namesake
trend here.

4. Rwandan landscape. The mountains
and trees are beautiful!

5. Laid back culture. I'm from
Cali, so maybe this is more familiar
to me than my fellow PCVs from
the East Coast.

6. My new transition! I'm really happy and
excited about it! I feel very lucky to have this

1. Living in the main province! It's so damn expensive!

2. Ignorance is frustrating. There's a huge
difference between locals who are well educated
versus those who aren't (as is true for well-educated
and poorly educated Americans). I've had it
up to here with being called "umuzungu" everywhere
I go, and having my hair pulled and inspected by strangers.

3. Transportation. I miss having a car! I like having
complete control of where, how, and when I go
somewhere. It slows down my life A LOT
and makes me feel much less free than I'd like to be.
I hate crawling in and out of vans
(buses are in van form here), having people's
asses in my face while others push and shove to get
in the van before people can get out. I'm also tired of
slouching and being squished like a sardine inside
those things. Gotten quite a few bruises.

4. The mountains. While pretty, they're a huge pain
in the ass to walk up and down all the time, especially
when I'm in a hurry. At least I'm burning calories. No
treadmill or gym membership needed!

5. The disorganization. Alright, I moved to Africa.
It has that general reputation, so I guess I'm
not surprised. But it goes without saying that
this slows things down, and is frustrating.

K, that about evens it out. Meant to write the pros and cons parallel to each other but it's hard to do that in this blog format. My next entry will be a lot more fun to read, I promise!