Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 11 --> Saying goodbye to ASYV/Rwanda

            Our last day in Rwanda :(. We are all so sad to be leaving the Agahazo Shalom Youth Village. After forming bonds with the students here and becoming accustomed to life in the Village, it will be hard to come back to the States and leave our new Rwandan friends behind. Fortunately, we can all stay in contact via email and Facebook!
            On our final day, we woke up to another beautiful morning over looking the Rwandan hills. At breakfast, the students were teeming with excitement for the impending national song and dance competition that was taking place at the Village later that afternoon. After breakfast in the dining hall and emotional final goodbyes, we had a tree planting ceremony in the center of the Village with Ilan Blum (the Village Director). Ilan spoke to us about the future of the Village and how meaningful it is for students like us to bring alternative cultures to the students at ASYV. The ceremony was meaningful, and it was a real treat to look out over the center gardens and see the cement (“sima” in Kinyarwanda) benches that we had helped construct over the past week. Some of the students in our Tufts group also designed a plaque to leave behind in the Village as a celebratory memory of our trip. The plaque included a mosaic of “Tufts ‘11” and a jumbo elephant. All packed up and ready to go, we piled into the bus and began our one-hour trip back to Kigali.
            In Kigali, we did some great souvenir shopping and had lunch together. We said goodbye to Rachel Olstein – thanks for everything, Rachel! – and also made sure that we had given her the letters that we had composed to ourselves, to be sent in 6 months. In these letters, we were encouraged to write about our experiences in Rwanda and goals for the future, or anything else that was on our minds.
            The airport was bittersweet. We were sad to be leaving Rwanda and the amazing ASYV students that we met, but there was also an air of excitement as we brainstormed ways that we could bring the experience back to Tufts and our communities. We discussed a few different categories: fundraising, awareness, continuing to be in touch with the ASYV, connecting with the Rwandan community in Boston and Rwandan current events, and promoting our own group bonding. When we get back to campus, we are hoping to start an official group devoted to these goals!
            After many hours of travel, we arrived at our various destinations. Thank you to Tali, our student leader, Amanda, our staff member from Tufts, and Rachel at the ASYV, and thank you to the donors who made this trip possible! We all learned so much on this trip and can’t wait to share our experiences with our friends, family, and communities!

- Janet and Zac, 6/5/11 - 6/6/11

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