Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 4: Monday

This morning we had the luxury of sleeping in until the late hour of 7:15! We began by setting our Kavanah (intention) for the day: "We look at each other wondering what the other is thinking but we never say a thing" (Dave Matthews Band). We thought this was important as we began to spend more of our time in the village and getting to know individual students. We also wanted to focus on communication and really absorbing everything that we experienced. After this, we split up into our morning service projects. Some students helped the landscaping staff build a fire pit outside of our guest house, another group built an irrigation system for the farm, a third group built a parking structure, and the final group prepared lunch with the kitchen staff. It was really meaningful to see our direct positive impact on the village and to do work that was really needed in the village.

Following our morning service, we had our second learning session called "Do We Have Responsibility to Take Action?" We read texts from the Qur'an, Talmud, and the Bible about each religion's point of view on people's responsibility towards others who are in need. We discussed their relevance to our work in Rwanda especially after reading the following poem:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me." -Martin Niemoller

This poem raised questions about genocide and people's role in prevention and response. We talked about being bystanders and whether or not we have a responsibility to take action when we are not directly affected. This discussion was really moving in the light of the role we are playing while we are here.  

In the afternoon we joined the students for their after school activities. We had a choice of attending one of the professional skills development classes: IT, Hospitality, or Agriculture. Later in the day, we had another option to go to an Enrichment Program, including traditional art, modern art, music, photography, sewing, basket weaving, science, or video. Two of our friends had the wonderful opportunity to teach a science class. They taught about neuroscience and the students thoroughly enjoyed it! These activities were a great way to immerse ourselves in the daily routines of the students in the village. After this we went to clubs. There are a plethora of choices, it was so difficult to choose one to attend! Tikkun Olam, Culture Club, Newspaper Club, Movie Club, and Research Development Club were among the myriad of options. Some of these club meetings were conducted in Kinyarwanda, but we had wonderful student translators who welcomed us and made us feel part of the club. 

After dinner, we had a quick meeting and all shared the best parts of our days and what we are looking forward to for the rest of the week. Today was our first day spent completely in the village and we really began to feel a connection to the students. Our group is also becoming a family and we are very much looking forward to the rest of the week! 

Muramuke! (goodnight!)
Natasha and Arlen 

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