Measuring Time in Tubes of Chapstick

>> Saturday, April 17, 2010

Days left of language training: 13 days
Days left until swear-in: 18 days
Carmex chapstick used: 3 tubes

Infinitive: Gushaka Translation: To need/want
Ndashaka kwiga kinyarwanda I need/want to learn kinyarwanda
Urashaka kwiga kinyarwanda You need/want to learn kinyarwanda
Arashaka kwiga kinyarwanda S/he needs/wants to learn kinyarwanda

It's a comforting cultural acknowledgment to know that in one of the most complex languages in the world there's one word to describe both need and want, with no need for distinction between them.

Learning kinyarwanda is like walking before you know you have legs, motor function, or balance.
You flounder for a while because you're trying to move [there's no point in staying still when the world around you is moving]. Eventually you're told you have a leg but one leg sans balance and motor function is minimally useful, and you continue to struggle linguistically; deaf, dumb, and blind.
You slowly gain footing and learn the basic abilities of movement, but we may as well be drunk for all of our stumbles.
Despite the difficulties of learning one of the hardest-ranked languages in the world [true story. Google it.] we do it happily, eagerly, and insatiably. It's the key to integration and acceptance, and to be honest it's an honor to do what no other foreigners in Rwanda set out to do. And when these 24 months have passed, and many more years after that, we'll take solace in this secret knowledge and bare our understanding to very few. We'll save it's strength for when our children have nightmares and be confident when we tell them komera [be strong] and quiet those fears because those same words helped mommy some years ago when she was alone in a small, landlocked jungle.
This language is a treasure, a jewel we'll carry home, and maybe not apply like you'd apply a romantic language, with a gold star on your resume, but it carries a different purpose, a kind of poetry that pops up in dreams and personal solace and lives if only for that.

Awesome happenings of week 7:
1. To practice our community assessment skills, our group visited different organizations and learned about their varying jobs and needs. By a stroke of fate, the cooperative I went to was a soy bean processing organization that makes soymilk and tofu. Long story, lots of excitement, and many photos later, I'm going to be making my own tofu. Never did I think this day would come living in Africa with the Peace Corps, but I'm not about to argue with fate. If anyone has any great seasoning/marinating ideas, forward them my way!

2. I don't have a definite for my housing situation yet, but my amazing future boss confirmed that they located a house in a village outside the city so I will be living the dream in hopefully a hut/house with no running water, banana trees, and garden/chicken potential. WOOOOOOOOOH!

3.Chances are high that i'll have a traditional rwandan charcoal “stove” to cook with and some CPCVs have said how awesome it is to roast marshmallows over the embers after you cook dinner [and since it takes forever to heat the embers up anyway, you might as well get the full course out of them]. So if anyone wants to mail me some smores ingredients, feel free!


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