I am so thankful for everyone being interested in my service, and I realized through all of my interactions that I have never really explained what I will be doing in Rwanda. Peace Corps has different programs in different countries. The two programs in Rwanda are education and health. I will be working with the education program as an english teacher.
When I first arrive in Rwanda I will be a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT) and begin three months of training. During training I will live with a Rwandan host family and take classes daily with other PCTs. One of the primary objectives of training is learning Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda. It is a Bantu language and from what I have read, incredibly hard to learn. I will also be learning how to be safe in-country and learn how to be a teacher. At the end of training you must test your language proficiency and achieve a certain level. Granted this happens, after three months of training I will be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). At this time all the newly coronated PCVs will go off to sites scattered across the country (location unknown until later in training).
Once I am installed at my site I will begin to teach. My primary duties, according to Peace Corps, are:
- Preparing lesson plans and teaching as many as 200 students (not all in one class) so that they will be prepared for the following year of study and the national examination.
- Motivate students to learn and introducing creative thinking techniques through your lessons
- Helping students find ways to put into practice in daily life the basic concepts learned in class
- Developing and introducing new texts, materials and teaching aids based on locally available materials affordable to the school and the students
- Collaborating with your Rwandan colleagues on improving their English skills and teaching techniques, through team teaching and one on one planning sessions
- Participating in faculty meetings, grading tests and supervising students
- Fostering mutual understanding between Americans and Rwandans through improvement in community life and secondary project activities
As the last bullet point indicates, I will have the opportunity to also pursue secondary projects. These can be clubs at school, a library project, sports team etc.
I am really looking forward to my work in Rwanda! There are a series of unique circumstances in place in the country. According to the packet of information from the Peace Corps, “Under colonial Belgian rule, French and Kinyarwanda were the national languages and French was the official language of instruction in high schools and university level education. In recent years, Rwanda has forged alliances with [it’s] Anglophone neighbors. The government now sees its economic future as being ties to these eastern neighbors and the larger international economic community.” Therefore, in 2008, the Rwandan government announced that English would become the official language of instruction from upper primary school onwards and all subjects are now taught in English. I don’t know the English levels of the teachers I will be working with or the students I will be teaching but I am excited to bring what I can into my school!