It’s hard to believe that after three months in Rwanda, my official Peace Corps service is just beginning, but such is the case.
We officially swore in as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) on December 7th at the residence of the American ambassador to Rwanda. This very fancy house served as a nice backdrop to the ceremony. We took pictures of our training group in the fancy clothes we had tailored out of local fabric, entertained and amused the crowd with our attempt at a local dance and listened to speeches by the PC/Rwanda country director, the ambassador and a representative of the Rwandan Ministry of Education.
We also gave some speeches. A male and female trainee each gave a speech in English, French and Kinyarwanda. I got to give one of the Kinyarwanda speeches. It was exhilarating to stand in front of a crowd of Rwandans (and Americans) and speak for several minutes in their language. They seemed to understand and laughed in all the right places to I considered the speech a success. I have a long way to go in my study of Kinyarwanda but this was a very rewarding progress marker.
After the swearing-in ceremony, I did some shopping for house things in downtown Kigali, bought a really pretty Bible in Kinyarwanda and picked up a care package from my dad at the post office. There is pretty much nothing in the life of a PCV to match the excitement of opening a care package and seeing what treats and surprises are inside. It was a very good way to round out the afternoon.
That night, the last night our training group was all together in one place, was bittersweet. This was partially so because, the next morning, we were being scattered to our various sites and partially because a lovely married couple in our group had made the considered decision to leave Peace Corps Rwanda and return home. I, along with some other volunteers, had dinner with them to say goodbye.
The next morning, those of us who were going to site that day (they spread the site installation out over several days) dragged ourselves out of bed very early and crammed our many belongings into Peace Corps vehicles. Volunteers who were being dropped off later shuffled out sleepily to say goodbye. As I noted at the beginning of this post, it was weird to realize that that moment, which felt like it had so much finality, may have been the end of training but it was only the beginning of Peace Corps service.
Now, I’m at site and I like it very very much (or cyane cyane pe as they would say in Kinyarwanda) so far. I’ll write about what my site is like and what I’m doing here in the next post. (As they wouldn’t say in Kinyarwanda,) hasta entonces!