This isn’t a great photo of me, but here’s two of my friends from the office, Joy and Hope. Joy works with cross border traders in Goma, and Hope is a Rwandan finance intern that got offered a part time position after she presented her thesis last week.
Today is the last day of my internship here in Kigali. Yesterday I had my close out meeting with my boss (and housemate), and today we’re having an office luncheon.
The rough part of having a twelve week internship is that at the end, you inevitably feel as though there was more that you could have done. By 12 weeks, you’ve really only just become a valued member of the office, and started adopting projects of your own. There are so many more things I wish I could have done while here, but time and funds just didn’t permit them to happen.
On the plus side, I truly learned a lot while here. I’ve written really large reports, organized marketing plans for our radio shows, conducted focus groups, launched Rwanda’s first real reality tv show, traveled with the participatory theater group to settle land conflicts, created materials for the organizational blog and the country website, and helped train local mediators in conflict resolution.
And if I never have to translate another document from French to English, I’ll be a happy woman.
But overall, I think that’s a good list of things. I’ve learned so much about conflict and peacebuilding, which was expected. What I didn’t expect was to learn about media production— working for an organization with 5 radio shows and 1 tv show will force you to pick up a little something. It allowed me to flex a muscle I haven’t had to use since high school, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
All that aside, tomorrow I’ll be meeting my mother in Uganda! The flight between Rwanda and Uganda is less than 300 bucks round trip, so I’m doing that so I don’t have to change my flight.
Be on the lookout for a guest blog from the madre… Maybe.
Dinner with my colleagues in Gisenyi, and GUESS WHAT I FOUND.
Goodness I love Emma Watson. The DRC country director gave me the issue because… well I think because she pitied me.
Kivu in the daytime!
Spent the last few days in Huye District, working with the participatory theater group! They’re pretty amazing, and they attract crowds of 300+ people at each performance, depending on the size of the town. Mostly, they dramatize lang conflict issues, which are the major source of discord in rural areas. They start off by going into the town and asking people for information on their most prominent problems. Then they create the plays. Most of it is improv, but they come up with a main overview of the plot. Then they dance. The music draws the crowd and the dancing helps build a sense of community with the audience. Then there are the plays. Usually there are at least 3, depending on the information given by the residents. Finally, they call on the participation of the crowd to help solve the problems dramatized in the plays. After that, they debrief— what was learned, and what do the land laws actually say?
Also, y’all see the Itchy and Scratchy Show teeshirt in the background?
Hey everyone! It’s been a good while since the last time I’ve blogged.
A couple weekends back was Sports Day at the office, where all the people in the office spend a half-day at the nearby sports complex. I decided to do a steam bath with the other females in the office, while the men went off to play tennis or workout in the gym.
Worst decision ever. Hyperbole, but an entirely worthy one. I was actually having a good time bonding with the other ladies. A couple are newlyweds, and were talking about their new husbands. It was the first time I’d really talked to them outside of work, so I was completely fine ignoring their nudity. Even if I thought it was a little gross that one woman was slathering the stagnant water over her body.
But then they said the room was coed. The finance manager who joined us later (after everyone had re-wrapped their clothes around their bodies) is a rather interesting character. Men here can be exceedingly forward, even if they have no romantic intent whatsoever. This particular finance manager is just odd. Very awkward character. He’s the one who asked if my hair was a hat, and if he could please touch it. He’s also the one who, when I was out of the office for training, asked me to come by the office so he could see what I was wearing. He also likes to hold my hand and whatnot. It’s not that the actions are specific to his interactions with me—he’s married and has no obvious interest in me. I think everyone in the office is just used to his antics.
So of course he walks into the steam bath with his little towel and joins in girl talk. I could have screamed.
Overall, I could have gone without the experience. There wasn’t anywhere for the standing condensation and sweat, so the water pooled on the seats and the floor. Finding out that the room was coed made that all the more gross in my mind. You mean to tell me I’m sitting in a pool of man sweat? Naw.
At least we got free tea afterward in the lounge area. Where everyone sat in their sweaty kitenge cloths and watched telenovellas.
Office gifts! They saw that I love scarves, so they got me two!
Anonymous asked: Hey Whitney! As your time abroad ends soon, where's your head at? What are you thinking of/ reflecting on/ planning next?
My head is everywhere! I’m currently thinking about employment options, and finishing up my last semester of grad school. Four classes between me and graduation. Four rather stressful classes, but I think I’ve had enough of a break this semester to get myself well prepared.
Thinking about the future is possibly my biggest source of stress. I have applied/am currently applying for a couple more travel fellowships for the fall, as well as a few paid spring and summer internships and research assistant positions in the meantime. I’m starting the search early because Washington is cut throat. I’m also starting early so I can make contingency plans if I cannot find a paid internship (or at least one with a small travel stipend. Metro isn’t cheap!). All career aspirations aside, I’m not above taking a weekend job as a waitress or assistant so I can support myself until something better comes along.
But most importantly, my head is in Uganda, where I’ll be meeting my mother tomorrow night to celebrate my birthday. She’ll be meeting my homestay family in Gulu! Cross fingers that all goes as planned, since we’ve had a number of mix ups and obstacles to get her here.
Lastly, I’m so excited to see everyone back home— and eat the food they will of course make/buy/hunt/gather for me. All jokes aside, I want nothing more than a classic family dinner and a good Saturday night out with friends. I’d also be completely willing to have someone offer to take me to Jaleo for some patatas bravas. I pay in Trident Layers.
Keep the questions coming! Let me know if there’s anything you all want me to take photos of, or things I should pick up!
Bet y’all didn’t know that Rwanda was a pretty beautiful vacation spot, huh? This is at the Serena in Gisenyi, and that’s still lake Kivu. This was a pretty awesome place to get a cup of tea and do work by the pool. You can come and order things by the pool even if you aren’t staying here (I surely wasn’t. Its rather pricey).
In Gisenyi for the next couple days, doing an information sharing workshop between our Angola, Tanzania and DRC offices. We’re talking about the Maputo Protocol, which addresses gender issues in the aforementioned countries (which have signed, but have implemented to varying degrees).
The first photo is the view from the hotel. I’ll post a better one tomorrow when its high noon. But all the blue is Lake Kivu, meaning we’re right on the DRC border. We almost didn’t come today because fighting had broken out again. But we’re safe, I promise
We had torrential downpour before the meeting, which forced us to eat lunch in a glorified closet while the hotel staff held up sheets to shield us from the rain. The second photo is the staff squeegeeing the water out of our conference room. It was literally 3 inches deep. My shoes are done.
I swear this place really does have a Thousand Hills.
Government encourages men to be sterilised for birth control in one of Africa’s most densely populated countries.
Rather interesting, no? Its pretty rare that birth control efforts ever consider male-centric solutions. At least a far as I’ve heard.
Here’s a list of fellowships and orgs that I’d recommend looking into if you’re young (ish) and looking for 1) a reason to travel and/or 2) someone to pay for said travel. These are the ones I could think of off the top of my head, but feel free to submit some more in the questions section. I know I missed many. These are the big ones. Even better, these are the ones I’ve had friends complete.
Luce (I was a finalist for this last year but didn’t get it. I’d be willing to give some advice if you want to know how I got that far =\)
Study abroad organizations (I got a scholarship from mine)