Wow I can’t believe it has already been 4 days here in Nyamata! I know there is still so much more to see, but we have already done so much!
Yesterday was a big day for us. For starters Daniel got his luggage! Turkish Airlines may have been voted the best airline in Europe, however I guess that award doesn’t make it all the way to Rwanda…
Also yesterday, we had the biggest surprise of the trip and I doubt it will end up being topped by anything else we get to experience. We got a chance to have lunch with the President of the Senate, basically the VP of Rwanda, at his home in Kigali.
Wow, are you kidding me (Jim Mora voice)? If you told me that I would get an opportunity like that before I left I would have called you crazy. For starters, the home was awesome. Like most nice places in Rwanda, an armed security guard greeted us at the gate before we were let in. It is still kind of disconcerting to see people walking up to you with AK-47s, but I am starting to get used to it.
The meal we ate was incredible. It started off with salad and then moved to the main courses. The meal was totally dictated by the VP. When he started eating, we started. When he told us to move onto the main course, we moved on. Daniel and I kept looking at each other because we didn’t want to do anything stupid and make sure we followed etiquette. The main course consisted of vegetables, potatoes, and some type of baked steak. Everything was delicious and it reminded me of a pot roast. After the meal we sat down for coffee and conversation. Immediately across from Daniel and I were pictures of the VP with Rwanda’s president. Crazy.
I was actually very impressed with the VP. Although most of the conversation was in Kinyarwandan or French, he did make an effort to speak with Daniel and I. He asked us about our trip to Rwanda, talked about his family, and shared a story about his lost luggage. It was definitely an interesting dynamic for Daniel and I.
Another interesting dynamic was that his two daughters as well as the other Nicole staying at NCV, Nicole, ate outside in a covered porch. I’m not sure if that was expected, or because more people showed up than expected. We found it very interesting none the less.
Following lunch, we went to the Genocide memorial in Kigali. Although I knew a little bit about it, the memorial was very eye opening. I found it incredibly sad and hard to learn about, but I thought the Holocaust museum in DC was actually more graphic. For me, I was obviously deeply affected by what I saw. I will never understand how a human being can ever do something like that to any creature in general, but especially another human. These things have happened over and over again throughout human history, and I just don’t get it.
I am also slightly perplexed that we didn’t learn more about it in school. Around 1 million deaths in 3 months. I also know have heard of Chinese students at OU who thought Hitler was a great guy because they didn’t really learn about the Holocaust. How can we learn from these atrocities if we aren’t being taught about them? It was an eye opening experience and obviously very sobering.
I am very excited for the rest of this trip and if these first 4 days are an indication, it will continue to fly by.