12 December 2016
Where am I?
- Kinazi, Rwanda
- Actually, I leave tomorrow for Kinazi, which I’ve never seen thanks to a site change having come after site visit. I’ll let you know how the place looks once I get there! What I can tell you now is that it’s in the Southern region of Rwanda.
What’s happening in my life?
- Swearing In
It’s finally here! After three months of training, living with host families, navigating a new country, and learning a new lifestyle, Pre-Service Training is over. This morning we put on fancy clothes—mostly of igitenge, the distinctive patterned material common here—and had a formal ceremony involving speeches in English, French, and Kinyarwanda, flags, delicious food, and us performing both Rwandan and American dances. We raised our right hands and took the Peace Corps oath, and here we are—officially volunteers.
- Site Installation
After a week of buying household items, packing things, and waiting in the bank lobby to get cards activated and mobile banking initiated, we’re ready to move to our sites. Tomorrow I’ll be driven from Kigali to Kinazi. I’ll be dropped off at my new house with my pile of necessities (which I’m hoping will include a gas burner to cook dinner on) and I’ll be expected to stay there for the next 90 days. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit scared, but I’m also excited to have some privacy, live independently, see my site, and begin meeting the community.
- Community Needs Assessment
During the first few months at site, I’ll be expected to complete a community needs assessment, or CNA. This is a huge project that involves talking to just about everyone in the community, mapping the area, and creating lists of resources and problems to be addressed. The goal is to get to know the community and its people in a way that will help me learn the best ways to meet my interests and abilities to the community’s needs.
How can you pray for me?
Succeeding at site is hugely dependent on my abilities to communicate. Everything from ordering my furniture made to knowing when school begins to meeting my neighbours hinges on communication. My Kinyarwanda is officially at an intermediate level, but in practice my communication varies from adequate to entirely unintelligible. Add that to my dislike of new situations and talking to strangers and you can see my problem! Pray for the courage to keep trying even when it’s difficult, the humility to learn from the people around me as we talk, and the persistence to find the answers I need when misunderstandings arise.
I’m about to embark on a long and difficult job. It’s highly rewarding, as I’ve been told and as I’ve begun to experience for myself, but I know that it will push me to my limits in many ways. Especially during these first weeks when I have no immediate support in my area, little idea of what my job entails, and no formal schedule (school doesn’t begin till January or February), I know I’ll be tempted to hide away and neglect my work. Pray for energy to get moving even when I’d rather not, for wisdom to know how to approach the different aspects of my work—especially the relational aspects—and for perspective to see beyond the moment I’m in when that moment feels futile.
There are a few things I’m concerned about handling at site. One is budgeting. I get paid monthly, not bi-weekly, and I’m still trying to get a handle on exactly how the bank here works and have yet to figure out how, to whom, and when I pay for things like rent and utilities. I will also have an enormous amount of control over my schedule, especially before school starts, which I’m not used to and don’t have a track record of handling particularly well. Budgeting and logistics aren’t my strong point anyway, so pray for a clear mind and patience as I try to organise my life in a way that’s both productive and sustainable.
I’m grateful for all the encouragement and support I’ve received so far. Thank you for coming along on this adventure!