2018 Rwanda Cohort (and some friends)!
I am thankful for the opportunity to travel to Rwanda/Africa and build relationships.
Rwanda challenged fellow AFP villagers and I in very predictable ways and, at times, challenged us in ways that we could not have planned for before our trip. Through these challenges, we each grew as individuals, fellow villagers (i.e. teammates), educators, and most importantly as journeying souls in this humyn existence. We formed a village that was loving, open, and curious. A community that searched for individual and collective growth edges and loved each other through the process of transformation. This village was beautiful to both observe and participate in.
In other words, I am grateful for the relationships formed and reinforced through this journey with fellow AFP villagers, our Rwandan hosts, and the dozens of Rwandans that reminded us of our humanity.
This post is dedicated to those individuals!
I am grateful for Drew Khan, professor, friend, family, mentor, and fellow-former athlete, who reminded me of our shared humanity in 2015 and for the opportunity to join the AFP in Rwanda. It is funny to think that our Rwanda trip this summer was only the second time I met Drew in the last 3 years, but for me, it only reaffirms the universal law of resonance. The skills and experiences that I have gained from drama-based education and our work together will only continue to stimulate my growth as an individual and an agent of change.
Thank you Drew for BEing Drew!
I am grateful for Françoise, our host and sometimes translator, who was often behind the scenes making things happen for the AFP collective. When she made appearances there was always a sense of peacefulness and warmth that welcomed each of us...every...single...time. Françoise embodies the warmth of Rwandans and Rwanda. Thank you for helping plan our trip and hosting us! Most importantly...
Thank you Françoise for BEing Françoise!
Eric, host and friend, aka "money man," aka "the mayor" (according to his friends) was our most visible host during our Rwanda trip. Eric is value-driven, thoughtful, patient, and has a powerful passion for caring for others and Rwanda. Eric is one of those people that you walk around with and gain access to popularity solely by association. This is probably because everybody in Rwanda knows Eric. After he joined Willie and I at the back of the bus we literally were talking to people in cars and on the street (while on the bus still)! I get the sense that Eric has a major future in the continued growth of Rwanda.
Thank you Eric for BEing Eric!
Noel, driver and friend, was our savior, literally. We took a 6-hour bus ride to Nyungwe National park and he saved lives on 3 occasions. On separate occasions during the drive, a child and teenager riding a bike jolted into the path of our bus and, each time, Noel skillfully avoided doom. On another occasion, he swerved to miss a baby goat that had moseyed into the road. Needless to say, Noel was a phenomenal driver during the trip and helped us navigate terrain that would be impossible for many experienced drivers. More importantly, we all grew to love Noel for his gentle spirit and kindness. Noel, like Françoise, had a peaceful presence that you felt when you entered his space. My favorite moment with Noel was when Noel joined Team Kabiri for our story-building workshop! He brought his A game to the group!
Thank you Noel for BEing Noel.
Eve, assistant director of the AFB and friend, brought positive energy and unconditional support to the village! Eve was crucial in helping our group prepare for the trip and was super helpful as we taught DBE across culture. I appreciated the conversation/s we had during long bus rides and over dinner about cultural sensitivity from her passion for continued learning as a helper! Anyone who is looking in can see that she is an important component in the success of the AFP, domestically and abroad!
Thank you Eve for BEing Eve!
Alice, professor and friend, is unapologetically quirky and hilarious! I was skeptical of Alice when she questioned my skepticism about Prince's death, but I came to love the questions she asked of the world, particularly with her work as an artist. Alice's energy makes me wish I her as an instructor in college, but I feel confident knowing that there are still professors, like you, in the academy−those who sustain the passion for students, education, and the arts in education.
Thank you Alice for BEing Alice!
Lilly is a passionate educator and is the most likely to be the next Mama Arlene in Rwanda! She was one of the first villagers I met during preparation meetings via Skype to Buffalo State. Lilly was also one of the first AFP villagers to greet me at the airport when I arrived at JFK to meet the 2018 AFP/Buffalo State group. Receiving that energy and invitation into the group was a personal highlight of my trip! Needless to say Lilly is an inviting soul and that made everyone in the village feel welcomed. I am thankful that I heard Lilly's story during the trip, learned from her as an actor, and as an amazing humyn!
Thank you Lilly for BEing Lilly!
René is FULL OF LIFE AND ENERGY! Along with Lilly, she was one of the first to greet me at the airport when I met the 2018 AFP cohort at the airport. She is famous in the group for her comment after we first arrived saying, "It's like...we're in Africa!" lmao. René brought a lot of flavor to the group because she was unapologetically herself and could add commentary to any situation. We all should be on the look out for René's talk show in the future (Right René?!)!
Thank you René for BEing René!
Liz aka "Lizdom" (= Liz + Wisdom) was the de facto mother of the group. Liz does not have children, yet, but she brought a maternal presence to the group that was helpful to the village. She is gentle, caring, a great listener, and is willing to help you remove stains from your clothing if all else fails (Right Willie?). Liz was also an honorary member of the back row of the bus!
Thank you Liz for BEing Liz!
Andrew, the intellectual and thinker, was the soulful white guy that knew all the afrobeats during the trip! Andrew was also one of the first AFP villagers that I was able to chat in-depth with while on our connecting flight to Kigali! I love the passion that Andrew has for educating marginalized youth and his readiness to question our existence on this Earthly plane at anytime.
Thank you Andrew for BEing Andrew!
Maddie aka my fellow co-facilitator aka Fellow Team Kabiri member 4-life was on a marvelous personal journey that we all had the privilege of watching unfold in the group. I see myself reflected in her personal journey and was inspired by the courage you showed us all during the trip! Moreover, I appreciated your patience (with me of course haha) and focus during out co-teaching together. We did an amazing job, which I think was evident by how our teachers inspired the other groups and how our teachers demonstrated their skills with students following the training!
Thank you for BEing Maddie!
Sean had the most contagious laugh of anyone in the group. It got to the point where if Sean laughed I automatically laughed, no matter the time or place! I appreciated Sean's thoughtfulness in the group and for his skills in capturing the photo of the 3 zebras for the village! Sean also was the medicine man during the trip. Thank you for the healing products pre-Akagera. Last but not least, Sean was the creator of the word "criscuit," which was groundbreaking (see Experience with Rwanda Nature post)!
Thank you Sean for BEing Sean!
Willie aka MilkMan aka my fellow African brother! Given our limited interaction via Skype before the trip, I assumed that Willie would be the quiet person in the group! After we became roommates during the trip I soon learned that Willie was far from quiet and turned out to be a comedian! We quickly became (laughing) brothers. I was inspired by Willie entrepreneurial spirit, his desire to invest in Africa, and his courage we all witnessed during the trip in so many ways (e.g. cutting his locs). Willie would be the first villager to join the back row, which, in my head, became an instant Rwanda 18' classic memory.
Thank you Willie for BEing Willie!
Finally, I am grateful and love the hundreds of people that helped prepare me for my journey abroad and that followed, shared and liked these blog posts!
I feel connected to you all!
As for me and this blog...I must do as our good friend Eric would encourage us to do ...
The future is BRIGHT!
Reuben Faloughi, M.Ed., is a fifth-year doctoral candidate studying psychology at the University of Missouri (MU). He recently defended his dissertation, which examined the effects of an intergroup dialogue-based diversity and social justice course on students' multicultural development. The course, now required for all MU College of Education students, was heavily influenced by personal experiences in the AFP/Dr. Kahn's drama-based education training, Division I athletics, the Fall 2015 student movement at MU, and other transformational life experiences. Reuben will complete his Ph.D. on internship at the University of Florida and graduate in Spring 2019. For more visit: