Monday, May 31, 2010
A Day Without Thorns
After getting back to the village after 12:30 am yesterday, we were all happy to have a later start this morning, as well as a less emotionally draining day planned. We met at 7:30 to start our service work, but split up into different sites today.
Sara: I stayed at the same construction site that we have been working at because I have been really enjoying spending time with the day workers there. Today I learned even more names and made up a silly song about sima, which is an adaptation of the French word for cement, which I sang with the workers. They helped us pick out amabuye amato, which are "small stones," to carry to the stadium seats we are building.
Even though the language barrier with them is almost insurmountable, I have felt as though I am actually making connections with the workers -- who ask when we will be back when we leave! -- because we are laughing, working, and struggling with language together.
Julie: This morning I worked on constructing a science center. I worked with four other Tufts students stacking clay bricks in groups of 5-6 that are easy to carry. We then brought the bricks around the building from the large pile of bricks, that included broken bricks that we had to sort through. I was surprised to be working next to a women, since all the other construction workers I have met are men. She had almost no knowledge of english but asked me if I was married and laughed hysterically when I said no. I found out she was 18 and married. That was the extent of our conversation but we continued to work side by side sorting through the bricks and stacking them.
After our service work, we had meetings in small groups with some of the house mothers and counselors of ASYV. Both our group and those from ASYV had the opportunity to ask questions of the other side of the discussion. A lot of our discussion focused around the opportunities for their students to apply to and come to Tufts! We were excited that so many students are curious about coming to our school, but tried to explain the reality of not only the difficulty of the admissions process, but also the financial barriers that stand in the way of attending such an expensive school. This was difficult for many of us, especially since we all want the students to reach as far and for as many opportunities as they can. It was also interesting to realize that some of the counselors are interested in applying to Tufts for graduate school!
We also presented the staff with individual gifts of messenger bags, which were donated by Tufts Admissions and absolutely adored by the recipients. We saw mothers comparing their identical bags and immediately putting the things they had brought with them in the bags.
After the meeting, we had the opportunity to visit Austin's family friend at his amazingly beautiful lake house. The waterfront views were breathtaking, which certainly made up for the cramped and bumpy bus ride there! Buses in Rwanda are very different from those we are accustomed to...
After an amazing meal including goat, which many of us had never tried before, freshly caught fish, and many other delicious treats, we thanked Austin's friend and piled back into the bus to return to ASYV in time for EPs (enrichment programs) and sports. The bus ride back was a wonderful bonding experience, most of which we spent having a very loud sing-along that kept up our lightened spirits and made the ride fly by.
After EPs, where both of us tried to weave traditional baskets, we met with Nir, the current director of the village, who gave us a unique insight into the philosophy of the village and the Rwandan educational system.
After our nightly Thorns & Roses session, during which the two of us had a very difficult time coming up with any Thorns, we were very excited to head to dinner, because it was the first meal in two days that we had spent with the students. It was great to get back into the rhythm of village life, especially when students with whom we have been forming friendships told us that they had missed us and were happy to see us.
We are looking forward to spending as much time with the students as we can in our remaining two (!) days at the village. Tomorrow we will be participating in the students' own Tikkun Olam service projects in addition to our own.
Murabeho (goodbye) for tonight!
Sara and Julie