>> Friday, April 30, 2010

so it's May 1st [Happy May Day!!!] and we're officially done with training. We've taken our language proficiency interview, we've passed, and we've moved on to partying, Rwandan names, and shipping off to Kigali. I'm actually really proud of myself and my language capabilities after kinyarwanda boot camp for ten weeks. The fact that the majority of my group swung advanced level language skills is really fantastic and at the same time hardly means anything until we get to site and try to actually apply them regularly to our neighbors and coworkers. Yesterday I was sitting and staring [not thinking, because it's hard to think when you look at the views here] at the mountain silhouettes on the horizon, and three boys who looked like the Rwandan equivalent of the lollipop kids from the Wizard of Oz, walked by. The were clowning by me until they saw the muzungu sitting on the hill and we had the following exchange:
Uvuye he?
Ahh yego. Komeza.

And while that really is basic, we understood each other, they respected my understanding and seamless speaking abilities, and moved on. It was really great. Kinyarwanda is such a throaty language that you might understand the words but if you can't be comprehended while speaking them, what use is it? It's also really interesting to try to communicate with minimal mutual language between you, and it's impressive what you can get across without actually saying anything. Real time charades.

I was at the market yesterday since it was the last market day we'd have in Nyanza and discovered some interesting things about Retail, USA. Imagination: the spring lines come out and mass consumerism commences. A few weeks later, whatever doesn't sell is either A: Shredded [because you can't give new clothes to the poor in America, apparently, because they try to return it for money at the original store. Or B: the clothes go into donation boxes and get shipped to 3rd world countries such as Rwanda. They're then given to local NGOs/other organizations, and then given to local business owners, who then sell it in the outdoor markets in heaps and piles to the average Rwandan for 200 franc per piece. The American Eagle shirt that was selling for $24.95 in Oakdale Male, NY just sold to me for the equivalent of 35 cents, tags still on, shirt never worn. What's the production value of this stuff?

My group will be heading to Kigali on Tuesday for our official PC swearing-in ceremony, for those of us that are left. In the past 10 weeks of training, 3 potential volunteers have gone home, which was statistically probable anyway, but it's still sad every time to lose some of the family.

Swearing in should be amazing; it'll be on Wednesday at the ambassador's house in Kigali, and will be shown on national television. If anyone knows a fancy western way to view it, like you can hear Rwandan radio on iTunes podcast, please try to! Lots of good food, Rwandan tailored dresses, and some tan faced children ready to be thrown into the bush. Each of us were given a Rwandan name by our LCFs [Language and Cultural Facilitators], the ones who lives with us and have taught us for the last 2 months. It's kind of a rite of passage and it's a name we can use at our sites since our silly American names are mostly unpronounceable. I was given the name Nyiramwiza, which means the beautiful one; I was so excited I almost cried when my LCFs told me.

I'm drawing a blank on what I should be writing about. Training is over, and the 24 months are about to start but it's so vague and daunting and mysterious that I really have no thoughts or tangible concerns yet to talk about. Or maybe my brain's just fried from too much kinyarwanda.
Kigali in a few days, Swear-in on Wednesday, and departure for my permanent site in a week. Happy/anxious/excited/terrified updates to come!


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