Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tufts in Rwanda 2012: Day 2

Today, we woke up at 5:30 and jumpstarted our day with an
Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Saturday morning ritual called Mucaka
Mucaka. During Mucaka Mucaka, students form groups and run around the
campus singing traditional Rwandan chants. It was very special that
the students could share this ritual with us, and really helped us
feel a part of the ASYV community. Mucaka Mucaka gave us a sense of
positive reinforcement before we began a long day doing service work.
After Mucaka Mucaka, we went to breakfast at the dining hall, where we
watched the ASYV Traditional Rwandan Dance club practice a few of
their dances. It was fascinating to see the students exhibiting pride
in their national heritage.

After breakfast, we began our first service work at the farm in the
village. Together with the students, we constructed a road by clearing
a large swath of weeds and grass in order to provide easier vehicle
access to the farm.  We worked from 7:00 to 9:30, and even after only
two and a half hours, we were exhausted.  It was humbling to realize
that the work we had done for such a brief span of time is done every
day by the vast majority of Rwandans, from morning to evening.  We
came to respect how hard-working and diligent Rwandans are, and how
committed the ASYV students are to the betterment of their own
village.  A large number of Rwandans depend on subsistence farming in
order to make a living. All the students that we worked
with were extremely eager to be a part of the community effort on the
farm.  We were inspired to see so many young Rwandans working together
to create a better future for the village and for their country as a

We then ate lunch and got our first look at the ASYV school on the top
of the hill upon which the village resides.  The school looks out upon
the rest of the village and offers a beautiful view of the rolling
hills of the eastern province.  The village's motto states, "If you
see far, you will go far," and so the school strategically lies at the
top of the hill above the rest of the village, so that while at school
the students can see as far as the horizon goes.  A senior-5 student
served as our wonderful tour guide of the school.  She'd only studied
English for two years but she speaks it impeccably, showing the
students' dedication to their studies within the village.  She took
the time to explain the different combinations of classes and the
various clubs that the school offers, such as the Drama Team, the
Leadership Club, TV Club, Tikkun Olam Club, Newspaper Club, and more.
Our tour guide was the Secretary of the Guest club, in which the
students help plan for volunteer guests arrivals. The clubs at ASYV
serve as an outlet for what the students are really passionate about.

Following the school tour, we had our first interfaith discussion. We
discussed the importance of having an interfaith service, versus
having a more secular experience. Since it was our first religious
discussion as a group, it was gratifying to hear everyone share their
varying religious beliefs. As the trip is an interfaith service trip,
we have students from many different religions, including Judaism,
Christianity, Islam, Sufism, etc. Accordingly, everyone has unique
perspectives on the motivation behind service work. The discussion
also included boundary breakers, in which we got to know one another
in a more personal way and allowed us to be more open with one another
in open discussion.

Our day culminated with dinner and a relaxing evening at the guest
house. We are excited for what the next few days bring, and are
especially looking forward to spending more time with the students at
the village!

Reporting LIVE from ASYV. We are Katie and Shane.

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