Rwanda, checking in.

As you may have heard a time or two, one of my best friends, Jessi, is currently living in Rwanda. She moved there last month for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps and she has already messaged back with stories of incredible cultural differences and amazing experiences. I love hearing her stories so much , I thought I'd share with you...


"This is a greeting commonly used by older adults talking to younger people. It means that they wish them to have many cows. The proper response is amashyongore, which means there should be many female cows among them to reproduce. While the concept of wishing people many cows is pretty foreign, the good-natured wishing of health and prosperity is not. No one has actually wished me to have many cows yet (although I’m staying hopeful), but everyone has been incredibly friendly and welcoming, and I am so glad to be here."

Family relationships explanation

"Talk about complicated. Your aunts and uncles are called different things on each side but the sister of your mother is your mother and the brother of your father is your father. So their kids are not your cousins, but your siblings. Your older sister is your mukuru, your younger sister is your marumuna and your brother is your masaza, but only if you’re a girl. If you’re a boy, then your sister is your mushiki and your older brother is your mukuru and your younger brother is your masaza. The children of one of your siblings of the same gender (brother if you’re a boy or sister if you’re a girl) are your children and the words for “niece” and “nephew” only refer to whether the children belong to your sister or your brother, not their gender. And just to make things a little more complicated, most of these name change if you’re not talking about your own family, but someone else’s family."

Food. Lots and lots of food.

"Tonight we had rice and beans and guacamole for dinner- definitely one of the best meals so far, it was delicious. We eat a lot of potatoes (usually as french fries), carrots, and goat meat (kinda tough, but not nearly so strange as it sounds). Breakfast is almost always bread and crazy salty eggs and lots of coffee (thank goodness). We eat pretty much every two hours, so whenever it’s longer, everyone gets hungry- probably not the greatest thing to get used to, but the food is delicious so we all dig in."

International Women's Day

"Last Monday was International Women’s Day, a holiday that goes largely unnoticed in the States, but that Rwandans apparently celebrate. In the morning we were invited to the soccer stadium for a women’s day presentation. We got there sometime around 9, which of course was hours too early. There was a (high school?) group there that sang and danced the entire time while we waited to start. Eventually they pulled all of us down onto the field to dance with them- it was a riot! None of us knew the songs or the dances, but we danced along just the same. One of the things they do is sing a song and form a chain bridge where you clap hands with the person across from you while other people run under. Between their group and ours it took a while to run through the whole thing. I’m sure we looked hilarious, but everyone had a good time with it.

When the presentations finally started there were a number of Rwandan dance groups. No one has actually explained the dance to me here, but before I left one of the fellows told me that in Rwanda they do cow dances where you are supposed to dance like a cow. Having never seen that before, I imagined sometime like lumbering around like a slow cow, which turns out to not be even remotely correct. Your arms are supposed to be the horns but they move them more like a slow hula dance. I have no idea what’s going on with the feet, but both the men and women wear bells around their ankles that jingle while they dance. The men jump around much more while they dance, but it looks much more graceful than how I’m describing it. I’m not sure yet, but it seems like the men and women always dance separately, and least while doing traditional dance."

I'm glad Jessi is so deliriously happy in Rwanda.

"There are really a hundred little things every day make me so happy. Here are just a few of them;

  1. The hundreds of butterflies that like to fly around Nyanza en masse
  2. Waking up to the sound of the rain hitting our tin roof
  3. The sun tattoo that AJ drew on my foot
  4. The genuine smiles that the old women here give you when you’re trying to speak Kinyarwanda
  5. The gorgeous view of the countryside that you get when you walk up into the hills
  6. How clear the sky is after it rains
  7. The millions of stars that come out every night
  8. Hearing “good morning” from the neighborhood kids every night as we walk back from dinner
  9. Reading on our front porch
  10. Sunday afternoon yoga

And a hundred other things that make me so glad to be here."

Isn't this all fantastically interesting?! Read more of her experiences here.

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