Thursday, February 14, 2013

Behavior Patterns of the Wild Muzungu

This is for mum; who wanted to know about daily life.  Love you!

I wake up between 6:30 and 7 to the sound of my family's roosters and my host sisters beautiful singing. I have started running in the mornings. Mornings are cool and misty, with heavy clouds hovering around the hills surrounding the lake I run around. The elevation and hills are killer here, it's going to take a lot of time to get used to. The national Rwandan breakfast food seems to be slightly stale hotdog buns, which I have with honey every day. Oddly there are no hotdogs in Rwanda, just the flavorless airy oblong breads.

The artificial lake I run around. 

My host family's lovely (and huge) house. 

By 8 I am trying to catch a cramped mini-bus to school. The buses friendly affairs, not just because we squeeze 4 or 5 people in rows of three seats, but I chat in broken English, Kinyarwanda or french with my neighbors. I have class every morning from 9 to 1 at SIT headquarters, a beautiful house near the American embassy. We start with a lesson in Kinyarwanda by the irascible JP, an enthusiastic guy who produces the music of Rwanda's top rap stars and apparently teaches American kids just for fun. We may get a guest lesson from one of Rwanda's biggest stars! JP teaches us Rwandan songs, has us do skits in Kenyarwanda and bounces with energy. Then we usually have a lecture on Rwandan history, or research methods.

Lunch we usually go to one of the anonymous buffet style restaurants with the standards of Rwandan food: rice, french fries, some kind of soup, savory plantains, and several other potatoes of various forms. Or we get snack food like Samosas and bring it back to school and eat in the garden. Did that today, along with mangoes and passion fruit which was fantastic!

Afternoons sometimes have more classes, sometimes we go to visit NGOs, or we go to the library with fast internet – a treat as delicious as food that is not potatoes. I spent this afternoon reading in the roof-top cafe of the library, overlooking mountains dotted with small red-roofed villages, drinking spicy ginger tea, and feeling incredibly lucky.

The view on the way to the library. Rwanda, the 'land of a thousand hills' is full of these vistas. Everywhere you go you can see for miles, as if you were walking to school along the blue ridge parkway. 

The lovely national library, overlooking the hills. 

I get back to my host family's house around 6:30, and hang out with the kids through the evening. I do homework while they watch dubbed Korean or Chinese tv shows, we play games, or sing songs. I kick them out of my room by 10 to have a little time to journal or read before I go to sleep. I actually get enough sleep here, a luxury compared to my bleary, coffee-fueled existence at UVA.

I am incredibly impressed with the SIT program. I feel like I've had at least a semester's worth of intellectual growth in the past three weeks. I understand so much more about how I believe the world to be: from world systems, to economic theory, to development, to human nature, to my place in the world. This is what education should be, and I am so grateful to take part in it!  


  1. Oh you wondrous person your posts never fail to put a smile on my face! Really must cross paths this summer, a minimum yearly dose of Anna is definitely a necessity in my life. Much love, K

  2. Whatttt no idea why I'm called Tunecat! Kester

  3. No hens with the roosters? Beautiful pictures and words. I am delighted this is working so well for you. Thanks for sharing your day! Love, Dad

  4. I just read that over 40% of the citizens of Rwanda are 14 and under and that the median age is 19. So when you look at the people around you, you see many your age and younger. No wonder rap is popular.

  5. Thank you for posting your daily experiences. It gives a much clearer picture of your life -- it's not all memorials and grave sites! The rooster is a treat! love -- Mom

  6. from MM: wow! u look like you got a very rich family. i miss u a lot. E is playing on the fire truck she got at Christmas. she was rolling around on it. don't worry, its battery died long ago.i miss u a lot.


    from E: ahhh! this! ANNA!