Sunday, October 30, 2011


Yesterday was umunsi w'umuganda. This is a day of service during which all who are able between 18 and 65 are supposed to participate in community service from 8-11am on the last Saturday of every month. A chairperson directs the work, and at the end there is a community meeting to discuss problems, concerns, news, etc. One is supposed to bring one's own tool and be directed from there. Our guard gave me a hand tool which has a long metal piece that bends at a 45 degree angle for the last 4-5 inches ( It is meant for cutting grass, so I helped cut grass along a small hillside and along the street. Needless to say, I was quite terrible at it. Others were able to hold with one hand and swing. To be somewhat effective I wound up holding it as a cross between a gold club and swinging like low baseball bat. By the end I started getting better, but I will clearly have to practice before the next umuganda day. There were some nice people who helped shuffle me around and one that had gone to university in Kampala who talked with me about umuganda. He was very proud and said that umuganda helps Rwanda be the most beautiful country in all of East Africa. After umuganda, I spent the rest of the day resting, which included accompanying my housemate to a massage and my first ever sauna. I understand it is supposed to hot but it was really hot! I only lasted about five minutes in the sauna.

I woke from my rest this morning to church music and preaching. There is what sounds like a Southern minister at the church next door today. He's speaking English and someone else is translating what he says. On Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays the church is definitely up and running. Last time I was in Rwanda we were right next door to a church as well. There are many here, and I am often asked if I am here working for either an NGO or a church.

In addition to umuganda and sauna, since I last wrote I was able to have another new experience on Friday night: Tanzanian food. For one of the gender researchers leaving the Centre to return to Australia, a group of us went to the Tanzanian restaurant near our house. You order goat in kilos there, and the group of us went through three kilos of goat. From the Tanzanian professer at the Centre, we also learned about the softest part of the goat: the underarm. In addition to the goat, there were DELICIOUS greens, some vegetables in a red saunce, fried potatoes, and a curry-like sauce. It was a very good meal. Tonight I may go to a local restaurant frequented by foreigners as they are having a Halloween gathering complete with Halloween buffet (unsure what that means), treats for kids, costume contest, and a showing of Ghostbusters. I will also find out today if I will be starting Kinyarwanda classes tomorrow.

Until next time, take care and umunsi mwiza (have a good day - OoMoonSee MweeZah, see for more Kinyarwanda words and phrases, spelled phonetically)!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting Situated in Kigali

I have now gotten over jet lag, met many people from the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) Centre for Gender, Culture, and Development (CGCD), met with members of the U.S. Embassy, and have settled into my ensuite. The house at which I'm staying is conveniently located, has meals provided four days a week, and is working out very well. It is especially great that the home owner knows many of the gender scholars and activists here and is introducing me to them all. I plan on being based here for the duration of the trip. I will still travel around the country of course. I also have been working on the final stages of the bureaucratic process through which one gets a visa. By next week I should have a visa in hand. Those coming out to visit me in Kigali should know that Americans don't need a visa if they are coming for 90 days or less. Here let me make a plug for Dr. Chantal Kalisa's summer study abroad in Rwanda to take place in summer 2012. Email Dr. Kalisa for more information ( The previous flyer is available at, but keep in mind updated information should be attained from Dr. Kalisa. Even if you are not in the UNL system, you should still email about attending.

In addition to getting settled in my new home, meeting new people, and working on the visa process, I have been able to explore a bit. Yesterday I was able to meet with the other Fulbright student and a friend of hers. She and I first met at the Fulbright orientation in June and she arrived in Rwanda last month. I was able to finally have my first Primus since being back in Rwanda and some brochette (goat skewer, though other meats are available as well) at a local restaurant near my house. Towards the end of the evening, there was some Glenn Medeiros, Elton John, and Celine Dion videos. Most of the music videos were of Rwandan artists. I should soon know more of them as I listen to more radio. That's one of the really fun things with my new phone: it comes with FM radio. AWESOME! Everything from local stations to BBC Africa. And for those in the know, yes I did bring a phone with me but in my brilliance I left the battery in Lincoln. It has clearly worked out though as that phone did not have FM radio, and having two here means that Andy will get to have a phone when he makes it out.

Those are the main happenings for now. I'm all settled in and off to a good start here in Rwanda. I will post again soon. Until then, take care!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Muraho from Kigali!

Greetings all! I have arrived in Kigali and enjoyed a nice day of rest. I really enjoy the house in which I am staying and it looks like I'll be trying to get myself up early in the mornings to go swimming. I also got a chance to visit the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) Centre for Gender, Culture and Development (CGCD). In the next couple days I'll be getting the last things in order to get a long-term visa, etc. Stay tuned for updates!