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Entries "November 2005":

Friday, 18 November 2005

Back in the big city

    You know, after 2.5 months of cows, pigs, goats, dirt roads and starry nights, coming to Kigali was a shock.  The lights, the cars, the hustle and bustle.  Just think what it's going to be like returning to Toronto after 2 years!  This is the first time I've made it back to the big city since we first arrived in the country.  Internet, bank machines, cheese, people who speak French, Indian food, women wearing trousers (wow I'm starting to speak like a brit!):  These are all things that I like about the city but part of me misses my little house on the dirt path, waking up every morning to roosters crowing and cows mooing, people dropping by the house unannounced, children shouting "Gatalina, Gatalina" as I walk along the road.  Ah, it's starting to feel like home. 
    This has been a week of more training.  We've had a couple more kinyarwanda lessons as well as lectures from Kigali Institute of Education professors.  We also visited Gisozi genocide memorial and museum.  That was a truly profound experience that I can honestly say I have no words to describe.  What happened in this country is unspeakable and I'm sure I will spend my two years and beyond grasping at understanding how it happened, why it happened and what effects it continues to have here.
    As for my holidays, I will be taking off North of Kigali this weekend for a VSO party, then spending a day at lake Muhazi (I have no idea how to spell and am too lazy to check) and the then on to Akagera National Park.  That'll be it for the site seeing for a bit as I will head back to my little hamlet to hang out with friends, learn some more songs in kinyarwanda and attend a wedding.  Then who knows, there are many possibilities and I'm sure I'll find something fun to do. 

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 12 November 2005

Still here

OK, I'm trying to make up for lost time so I'm blogging like crazy today.  If this is the first you've heard from me follow down the page there's more.  I won't have time to email today but now that I'm on holidays I'm hoping to get on the net more frequently.  So to those of you who have written me I will be getting back to you soon. 

Just a few personal messages to people, this is much faster than e-mail:  Val, got your letter, laughed, cried.  It was great and I love the picture.  Jocelyne, good luck!  I'll be thinking of you in the coming weeks.  I have a student with your name.  Lucy and Jeff, congratulations on the new baby!  Beautiful name.  Andrew D, thanks for always making me laugh and tell Zach that I will write him soon.  I'll be trying to organize the pen pal thing over the holidays to start in January when school starts again so I'll be in touch.  Mom, thanks for looking in the baking powder thing for me and no Jennifer I am not losing brain cells, only pounds.  Also mom and James I need some recipes to go with the spices you sent me.  I don't know what to do with mustard seeds, tamarind sauce and asofoetida????  Dad, I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of the house, how is it going?  The new ruler came in handy doing report cards as I had to trace a lot of lines and well, it was useful and beautiful.  Jen Romualdi, I sent you a text message, did you get it?  looking forward to your letter.  Tamara, I will write you soon.  Can't wait to see the bump!  Adam, I'm disappointed, I thought you were a CBC convert and pregnant women shouldn't be running around in graveyards or cornfields at night.  Peter B.  I will definitely look into the singer, thanks for thinking of me.  Cristal, don't underestimate your wisdom and thanks for keeping Savannah up to date on what I'm doing.  I imagine she hasn't mastered the internet yet.  So many more people to address, but time will not permit.  Next time.

Stay tuned in the next few days for more.  I'll be in touch.

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Modified on November 12, 2005 at 8:03 PM

Just wanted to say a quick word to teachers and students at both Heart Lake and Fletcher's.  I have just heard about your losses and want you to know that I am thinking of you.  I know that I am very far away but when I hear about things like this I feel as though I am right there with you. 

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

OK I'll start by saying I'm sorry that it's been so long.  4 weeks to be exact. The week after my last entry I decided to stay in Gasarenda for the weekend and so was not able to email.  The following weekend I was in Butare but because of all the running around for Geert's birthday party did not get to an internet cafe.  Then for the past week it has been "fête" after "fête" at the school so I stayed in Gasarenda last weekend too.  So, obviously I have a lot to say so bear with me.  I may have to break this up into two or three sessions but here it goes.

Thanks a million to Tim, Paula, mom, dad, and Jen for the packages.  I went to the post office a couple weeks ago to find that I was a very popular girl!  All the more popular when I took chocolate to work to share with other teachers (thanks Tim).  I really enjoyed reading the letters, burning the candles, eating the candy, wearing the hair elastics, shoes and Paula I'm a hit with the kids in the neighbourhood with the bubbles and the bouncy ball.  Thanks also to Paula for the third letter.  You so far are the winner for consistent mail. 

So what can I say have been the highlights of the past few weeks.  We have finished the school term, exams are marked, report cards are finished.  I have to say teachers, I will never complain about doing report cards in Canada again.  I have spent a solid 30 hours completing report cards (after countless hours of marking) and we stayed at school until 1 am on Thursday (or I should say Friday) completing the reports and "deliberating".  There is a reason why so many Rwandans say "patientez".  Waiting, and doing tedious little tasks that would take a fraction of the time on the computer are just part of living and working here. 

While doing all this work, there have also been a lot of parties at school.  But, let me explain to you how a party works.  A class, or club gets together and organizes the party.  Everyone contributes some money and they buy fantas, beer, and food (bread, or meat and rice depending how much money has been contributed).  I have attended 7 parties since last Friday and this is how it typically goes.  I enter the room and a student shows me to the "VIP" / "teacher's" table.  Everyone sits around the perimeter of the classroom talking to the person next to them while music is being played on a radio.  Usually there are problems with the generator so the music comes and goes.  Eventually the master of ceremonies starts.  S/he welcomes the guests, gives a speech that is usually in Kinyarwanda so I couldn't really tell you what is said, then presents the order of events for the evening.  There are usually performances by students who have composed songs or written poems for the occasion.  Then each teacher is expected to give a speech.  Something that I didn't really know, but I'm getting used to giving impromptu speeches.  Beer and drinks are served, then food.  The drinks are always opened in front of you (as is the custom everywhere in RWanda for fear of poison) and as soon as you finish one there is another waiting.  Yes, the students consume beer along with the teachers.  Remember, the students are a minimum of 18 years old, some of them even in their 40s.  After, the MC announces that it is time to dance, the music comes on and everyone hops up and gets down.  All distance between students and teachers vanishes and let me tell you, it can get hot in there.  I'll leave it at that.  For people who are generally very reserved, and who show zero public displays of affection between male and female, they dance very provocatively.  It's all good fun though.

I'm going to post now and write more later. 

love ya

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog