I have never been so happy to see water… But we have to start before there. We had been in Kigali for a few days before we jumped into out CBT (Community based training- characterized by living with host families while having 45 ish hours of in-class training per week). We all had 20 words of Kinyarwanda under our belt and one bag with us that contained all we held dear. PC Rwanda had a small ceremony for us to introduce us to our new families. It went like this: They would call the name of the host family and the representative would stand. Then they would call the name of a PCT and everyone would clap and yell, while the new families exchanged many, if not slightly awkward for the more reserved Americans, hugs, before our new parents grabbed us by the hand and took us to our new seats together. This happened 32 times. One word comes to mind: overwhelming. By the times all the names were called and we were dropped off at our houses, it was full dark. Now mind you, full dark hits at about 6:15 PM and lasts until 6AM everyday. We pulled up to my new house and I immediately knew I was not one of the lucky ones that would have electricity. Pair that with the zero English my family knows and I was more overwhelmed than I ever thought possible. I awkwardly got through dinner while still trying to figure out which of the 15 odd kids in the courtyard actually belonged to my parents (pretty sure it’s only 3).
In Rwanda it is taboo to cry in front of people so I made my excuses after eating and holed up in my room. Thankfully I have already met some wonderful people, that cheering up was only a phone call away. Calling AJ, a third year who helped us our first few days in Kigali, was just what I needed. She let me know that yes, the crazy emotions were perfectly normal and that yes, this was one of the hardest nights. I got my cry on with her and then attempted to pass out. However, there are infinitely more strange noises here in Rwanda 1) Rwandan radio playing at all hours 2) Drunk, young men walking to and from the bars 3)Cows 4) Roosters. Needless to say it was a long night, but when I woke up(at 6AM no less, who have I become? A morning person?!?!?!) I felt hugely better. I ate a breakfast of tea and bread with my Papa and then we were off to church. I desperately hoped others from my training class would also be in attendance, but alas, I was the only American. As such, I got the seat of honor on the stage where all the action was (Ohh hello fish bowl of stares). After church I phoned some PCT friends and they all reassured me we were all in the same boat of being super unsure of ourselves and being scared of the situations we were all in. Thank Goodness! My Papa also handed me the phone to speak with one of my family’s previous host daughters. I don’t know why but this conversation put my in the best mood.
It also didn’t hurt that when I walked in, PC had finally delivered our promised drinking water (our water filters take a day to set up completely and PC was supposed to leave 5L of water at our host families to tide us over. Needless to say, they forgot). Magic. So one week in and I am already riding that PC roller coaster of emotions I had heard so much about. I am so thankful for the support system I have here, within our training class and with the current PCVs.
“That’s so PC” Checklist Accomplished
- Made a baby cry because she had never seen a white person before (she still won’t look at me without crying)
- Successfully used a pit latrine!!! (Huge mental hurdle)
- Took a bucket bath
- Had a HORDE of children follow me around while I made faces at them
Taught my host sister and her friends “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. If I can ever get intern