When I inform friends, family, and acquaintances of my somewhat non-traditional postgraduate plans, I am undoubtedly met with a series of questions. (If you’re wondering where exactly Rwanda is, you’re not alone. See this page for the answer to this question and much, much more.) Many of you have also been curious about the specifics of what my life in Rwanda will be like–where I’ll teach, what exactly my living situation will be like, etc. Unfortunately, my knowledge at this point is still fairly limited, as is the nature of the Peace Corps, and I will have to wait until orientation–or later–to discover the answers to many of these questions. So for now, this being my first post and all, let’s stick with what I DO know (It’s much more reassuring for everyone that way).
From September 2014 until December 2016, I will serve as a English Education Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda.
On Tuesday the 9th, I will meet my fellow trainees and Peace Corps staff in Philadelphia for Staging, which is basically a series of orientation sessions, paperwork, icebreakers, etc. Then, the next morning, we’ll drive to New York and take off for Kigali!
During my first twelve weeks in-country, I will undergo an intensive training with a group of about 35-40 other Education volunteers. I will spend the first two days in the capital city, Kigali, for orientation. From there, we will travel to Rwamagana district, a region about an hour east of the capital city, Kigali. During our 12 weeks in Rwamagana, we will be living with host families, an aspect of training I’m especially looking forward to.
My fellow trainees and I will be scattered throughout the region in groups of two to three volunteers per village. Much of my training will be conducted in these small groups of three for language and cultural training, which is designed to give us a solid foundation in Kinyarwanda and Rwandan culture. For the rest of the time, I will take part in technical training with my entire training class to learn how exactly one goes about teaching English in a rural Rwandan village, as well as other sessions on health, safety, etc.
About halfway through training, I will receive my site placement. I will be able to spend several days in the community I will teach in so that I can meet with administrators, see my living arrangements, and get a feel for my long-term site. Then I will return to Rwamagana to finish training, the second half of which will include a “model school” practicum to get us actually in the classroom teaching. Then, on December 5th, I will (hopefully) travel to Kigali to swear in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer.
My primary role will be as an English teacher in a Rwandan secondary school. The rest of my time will be spent in designing and implementing secondary projects which could cover anything from a camp designed to empower girls to a a series of workshops on HIV/AIDS. Most Education posts in Rwanda are very rural, so I may or may not have electricity or running water.
There you go–that’s about everything. So for now, wish me luck in appeasing my compulsive need to plan by reminding myself that the best adventures usually involve a healthy dose of uncertainty, surprise, serendipity, spontaneity, and a leap of faith into the unknown.