Today we paid a brief visit to the location that our main teacher training would take place at - Urukundo Village. It was a beautiful, well-equipped facility, filled with multiple classrooms and buildings, and even a dental clinic!. We were informed that Urukundo was one of the highest performing schools in the area. We had all brought a bag full of school supplies to donate to Urukundo through our extra baggage, so it was exciting to finally see where our donations were going to go!
We arrived in the middle of several heated games of football and volleyball taking place in the main courtyard. Once our bus pulled up however, the games quickly dissolved as the children swarmed around the bus. Everyone was excited to see us and invited us to join in their games, but instead we walked to the main building for a warm welcome from the matriarch of Urukundo, Mama Arlene. Arlene (who insisted that we call her Mama) is the founder of Urukundo, and you could absolutely tell that she LOVES working with the children there. In fact, as she told her story of founding Urukundo, she interspersed it with the stories of multiple children (“my kids,” as she referred to them), and the interwoven connections she has created since moving to Rwanda.
We next went to dinner, where Mama continued to tell stories. I wished I could have continued listening, but instead I was seated next to several children, all of whom kept asking me about my bracelet, my glasses, my hobbies, and everything else you could possibly imagine. The children at Urukundo were not the least bit shy about anything - they were forward and direct in their questions. It was a bit shocking to see at first, and made me reflect on my shyness - I am not naturally that forward!!
After dinner, Mama led devotions. I had no idea what devotions were, but was eager to observe and participate in a tradition that was well beloved at Urukundo. Devotions turned out to be a miniature version of a worship service - there was prayer, song, a bible verse/lesson, and then devotions would end with a dance circle (I’m starting to notice a trend…). It was very ritualistic, moved quickly, and clearly everyone knew the order well. The children were respectful and silent during the time of prayer, and were proactive in involving our entire delegation in the dance circle (which I’m gradually getting better at!!).
Urukundo, despite our rather brief visit, struck me as an inspiring location, and I can imagine that the learning here is of consistently high quality. I can’t wait to do some teaching of my own here tomorrow!
I am traveling to Rwanda with the intent of a sponge - I want to absorb as many unique experiences as I possibly can, and bring them back to share with my culture. I am a multifaceted artist, and Rwanda is a treasure trove of valuable experiences to draw inspiration from. As a visual artist, I look forward to seeing unique handmade art, and letting it inspire an artistic vision. As a musician, I look forward to hearing vastly different than what I’m used to, and letting that inspire music from my soul. And as a teacher, I’m looking to see teaching methods different than what I have known. I want to bring these gifts back and share them with my culture.