October 7, 2012
Site Announcements. The two words on out training schedule that could elicit extreme excitement, fear and anxiety all at once. This wasn’t just finding out the name of our village, it was finding out how much we were going to sweat everyday, how far we were going to be from our friends, if we would be roughing it without electricity and what kind of school we would be teaching at.
Site announcements were Friday, October 5. It was a hub day, which is where twice a week all 34 trainees gather at “The Hub” (aka training center) to do sessions on cross culture, medical, safety and security, and technical (learning how to be a teacher). This hub day the nervous excitement was palpable.
After lunch, the staff and VATs (Volunteer Assistant Trainees, PC loves dem acronyms) brought out the map of Rwanda with pins in it to signify the locations of the previous two education groups. One by one, they pulled a name from a box and announce that trainees soon-to-be home for the next two years. The name of the village doesn’t mean much until you put it in the larger context: who else you are around, what side of the country you are on, how far off the main road, distance to cheese, etc.
The country is divided into 5 sectors, North, South, East, West and Kigali. The North is the most mountainous, it is cooler and has abundant green tea fields (along with the huge tourist attraction in the volcanoes, where the gorillas live). The South has rolling hills, a good fruit selection, but it known to be a little poorer. The East is what you think of when you hear the word Africa. It is a grassland savannah with safaris, but it is at a lower elevation, so it is hotter. The West is dominated by Lake Kivu, which also forms a larger border with the Congo. Kigali encompasses the area surrounding the capital.
I feel so fortunate to have received my site. I will be in the Northern Province in the Rulindo district. As such, it gets chilly at night (!!!!) but can be quite warm during the days. It is an hour bus ride North from Kigali and then either a 15 minute moto ride or a 45 minute walk to my village. My village is in a valley of tea fields so it is green AND flat! The closest volunteer to me is a 30 minute moto ride/ 3 hour trek up a mountain from me. She also happens to be a wonderfully good friend of mine. I am also at the junction of two roads so I can easily go up to the volcanoes to visit a friend or out to the NE to visit others. The best part of all… I am a 45 minute walk to a place that sells cheese. I can die happy now, I am so lucky.
My school is a day school with a small secondary school (where I will be teaching up to 300 students that are approximately middle school ages) and a caring headmaster. Tomorrow (Monday, October 8) we head to Kigali for meetings with our headmasters/ headmistresses and then from Tuesday- Saturday we will be visiting our sites. More info to come (and hopefully pictures as well)!