I’ve been home for a full week now. It’s been very interesting. I’m definitely more quiet than I
already was, a lot calmer, thoughtful and more patient. I’ve been working my butt off since being back and it’s been kind of weird. My coworkers and bosses keep asking me about how the trip was and how I felt being there. Trying to find one word to describe how the trip made me feel was harder than I expected it to be. Truth be told, I feel drained emotionally. I feel like I went through all seven stages of grief while in Rwanda. Although when I first was learning about the trip Professor Kahn said my heart would be ripped out and he was true to his word. There’s not just one word that can describe my experience. Above all though I was grateful and honored to be able to go to a country that is so beautiful in both scenery and culture. I’m still trying to understand what to do with everything I’ve learned and experienced.
Visiting Azizi life has been by far my favorite activity since being here. We were met by the
women and they had a ribbon which Professor Kahn cut. Upon cutting the ribbon the women
began to sign, dance and throw flowers at us. This day has shown me that I’m not able to do
labor work at all. We walked to get water and a little girl carried mine for me after watching me
struggle. I have no desire to farm or fetch water again. I respect the culture, I just couldn’t do it.
Crafting with the banana leaves and actually cooking was more my speed. I love cooking and
have weaved baskets before so I was able to acclimate quickly to those activities. It’s always so
interesting though because a lot of people would look down on this type of lifestyle. However in my opinion just because a lifestyle isn’t something you’re used to doesn’t make it wrong.
I cannot believe I walked across a canopy that was 7,500 ft. up in the air. Akagera National Park
really had me outside of my comfort zone. If people were meant to fly or be in the air we would
have wings, never in my life would I think I would’ve walked across the canopy. I did it and
have no desire to do anything like that again. I love outside but hiking?! I also am terrified of
bugs. Outside would be wonderful if bugs weren’t there; however, I know that would throw the
whole ecosystem off so I usually just avoid bugs by staying inside. I was completely ready to just give up on our hike back up the hill but our guides, Sonia, and Magdeline helped me through (albeit rather slowly.) It was an interesting change in scenery though and I have made plans to go to the gym more consistently when I get home. Also we got to see monkeys and a chimp before even going to the safari so I’ll take that as a good sign.
The following journal entry is a collection of my thoughts after visiting the memorial center. They aren’t cohesive or narrative as a typical journal would be, but after seeing things so disturbing I don’t know how my thoughts could’ve been.
This whole summer I’ve been using whelmed to describe how I’m feeling. For once though I am overwhelmed. Overcome with emotion and not sure what to do with them. So many lives cut short so many that hadn’t even begun. Seeing the blood stains on clothes, especially those that are for babies disturbed me. I already struggle with forgiveness personally so I don’t understand how someone would even begin to forgive someone for murder. I couldn’t continue to walk through the church and had to look at the faces on the wall of remembrance. Remembering those who were lost. It reminded me of my mortality that at any moment not only me but anyone I love or interact with could be gone. In America we take life too lightly, we have mass shootings all the time and a part of me has become desensitized to it.
I think a lot of times people don’t care about other people's lives unless it directly affects them or if they think those people are worthy of being cared for. I think we should care about each other just because we are human. America has lost its sense of community in its individualistic culture and we’ve all begun to see each other as enemies. The left vs. the right, black vs white.
We all bleed the same blood. We all sleep under the same sky
Muraho! My name is Kerri Perry, I’m currently a junior studying Media Production and will be graduating Spring of 2023. I’m from Houston, Texas (go Astros!) I chose to come on this trip after attending an informational meeting, Professor Khan said a lot of things that really stuck with me and moved me. I’m also on this soul searching journey and want to learn as much as possible to grow as a human being. I’m hoping that on this trip I meet new people who give me different perspectives on life. On this trip I’m hoping to find a home away from home. Thus far I’ve been very fortunate to have to very wonderful professors through Drew and Jonise who have made this experience not only fun but have begun to change the way I see the world already. I’m so honored and fortunate to have been selected for this trip and can’t wait to see what is to come.