I am grateful for the opportunity to practice sacrifice, a form of non-attachment. This practice has enabled me to push myself into uncharted territory emotionally, intellectually, and in my life adventure.
Sacrifice, in my experience, means to give up something in favor of something else. This has meant allowing myself to let go of things (comforts, expectations, assumptions) I can not control and taking responsibility for matters I can control. At times, sacrifice has been difficult because I have felt like I was losing something; however, I now realize I always gain something in return.
Rwanda has provide opportunities to practice sacrifice.
**Pre-Rwanda Sacrifice/Sister's Wedding**
Last Fall (2017), I was asked by my sister to play guitar at her wedding. I was honored and hyped about the idea and immediately started brainstorming what the performance would look like and which one of my girlfriends (i.e. my guitars) I would bring to the matrimony. She wanted me to sing Shania Twain's This Moment On which was vocally a stretch, but I figured I could get another family to sing while I played (smart right?!)!!
Then, the opportunity to join the Drew Kahn and the Anne Frank Project in Rwanda. I remember having 3 days to make the decision before the application deadline closed. Talk about experiencing cognitive dissonance...
I could go to my sister's wedding, but I did not see another opportunity to leave the country in the foreseeable future, especially considering my year-long pre-doctoral internship and my desire to become a licensed psychologist following internship (i.e. additional time completing clinical training). I also felt that I would disappoint my sister for missing what I believed was a once in a life time event.
After a phone call with my sister, I was happy to receive her support to go to Rwanda. I also knew (truly only felt) that deep down she still wanted me at her wedding. After sifting through the confusion and emotions, my inner voice screamed RWANDA.
I would listen to this voice and decided to join the AFP in Rwanda. This decision meant I would miss my sister's wedding while away in Rwanda, which was difficult for me (and I imagine difficult for my sister even though she never expressed this) emotionally, but I knew that I would gain something.
My sister's wedding was this past weekend and that day I experienced sadness that brought some tears early in the day; however, after soaking up some (African) sun and hanging with some kids, I realized the reason I sacrificed to come to Rwanda. I gave up my physical presence at my sister's wedding, to gain a life altering experience as a teacher, facilitator, and humyn soul. Moreover, I have only received love and support in return from family and friends (including my sister) since my decision to come to Rwanda.
Though I was not physically present, I was able to contribute to the wedding by writing a speech and singing the Shania Twain song she asked me to sing during the wedding ceremony.
Check out the song, without the speech, below!
** Sacrifice while in Rwanda **
Since my arrival in Rwanda, I have had additional opportunities to practice sacrifice.
For example, prior to my arrival, I planned to write a daily blog post during my trip in Rwanda to share what I believed would be a rich learning experience with family and friends. This frequency would require consistent internet connection, which I believed would be available. However, though Rwanda has powerful Wi-Fi capabilities and technology in larger cities such as Kigali, we would eventually venture out of the capital city into more rural areas and hotels, where internet connection was inconsistent. I had to give up my beliefs about how frequently I would blog, which was not favorable. However, sacrificing this frequency in posting has allowed me more time to process the experience in Rwanda. This is the reason you see less frequent posts to the blog. Moreover, I realized that I can continue my blog after my trip to Rwanda and still be able to share the experience, while giving myself time and space to process the experience! Win-Win?!
Another example, includes the sacrifice of comfort in being able to communicate with fellow humyns. Though English is an official language of Rwanda, all Rwandans do not readily speak English or prefer speaking in English. I understand this choice, particularly when I consider the privilege and preference I have in the United States (U.S.) of speaking, writing, and reading in English. For this reason, English language learners are challenged by their inability to fluently speak, read, and/or write in English, which often means these people are left out of conversations, literally and figuratively.
Though we have had an amazing translator in Eric, my newest Rwandan friend and our guide during the trip, I felt "othered" when I could not connect with some Rwandans because of my inability to speak Kinyarwandan, the native language of the country. This was most apparent when working with some Rwandan teachers and wanting to communicate nuance in my instruction. In terms of sacrifice, I lost my ability to communicate in the traditional fashion that I might in the U.S., but I also gained a sensitivity to body language and use of non-verbal expression to aid in communication; in addition to humility and compassion for those in the U.S. who do not speak English, it can feel alienating.
These are only a few of the ways I have been challenged to sacrifice. Others sacrifices include: consistent hot shower during the journey, proximity to loved ones, the ability to attend events with friends and loved ones, 'vacation' time, and many more.
Nonetheless, regardless of the specific sacrifice, I am grateful for the ability to find the lesson/wisdom/growth/opportunity/benefit in sacrifice (a form of non-attachments).
My heart and mind are open to whatever is ahead.
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: