Today was an endless and emotionally draining one. Nevertheless, it is one I will never forget. To start off the day, we went to the school MindLeaps. Rebecca Davis was the mastermind for this school after she witnessed homeless kids dancing on the street. Kids go to MindLeaps for school and dance. To say I was in heaven would be the understatement of the year. My heart blossomed watching these remarkable children dance their hearts out. Their passion radiated from their souls and it was so hard not to join them. Going to this school was definitely the highlight of the trip so far, especially as a dancer.
Next on our schedule was a visit to a TIG camp. The people who inhabited this facility were war prisoners who confessed to killing in the 1994 genocide. I was uncomfortable at first. Coming from a long line of civil servants, I didn't think that I wanted to listen to those who stood before me because of what they had done. However, each prisoner was open to tell their story of being brainwashed, taken advantage of by the perpetrators, confessing their crimes, and going to their victim's families to express their sorrow and ask for forgiveness. I began to not see murderers, I began to see these people who have made an immaculate recovery and want to rebuild their country. All have been forgiven and they are determined to serve their sentence by working outdoors to cleanse Rwanda from the inside and out. I was crying. Forgiveness is a huge part of Rwandan culture and it's something that we (Americans) cannot even fathom.
Only having time for a quick lunch, we ate fast and went straight to downtown Kigali to host a workshop at the Kigali Memorial center. Many people there were from different backgrounds, but all left with a new found appreciation for theatre and Anne Frank. We were broken into groups to teach them the same warmups and games we used in teacher training. Our objective was to create a story. I had my friends Eve and Liz in my group and we all had a blast creating a story, using the theme " Peace is everyone's responsibility". One girl named Binte lit up the room with enthusiasm and it was her first time doing theatre. She was a natural.
To close the evening, we had an Indian dinner with a group from San Jose University. As this trip comes to a close, I reflect on everything I have done and learned on this trip. It was a big process and I had many challenges to get where I am, but the journey was more than worth it. I always seem to find my way by going places or doing things other people wouldn't normally. This day seems like a Dixie Chicks day. For today's song, it is The Long Way Around by the girl power group. "I opened my mouth and I heard myself. I could have made it easier on myself but I could never follow. I've been long time gone now. Maybe someday I'm gonna settle down. But I've always found my way somehow by taking the long way around." Nothing good ever comes easy and no one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.