A little Farewell… for now ;)

Well, I’m back in America and I must say these first initial days have been quite the adjustment. I remember Drew mentioning three weeks in Rwanda is the equivalent to months away somewhere else, and I have to agree. I haven’t ever had such a rough time transitioning back into my regular life. My long and grueling adjustment back to an American sleep pattern was my own fault, but that has been the least of my worries. My concerns have just been about getting back into the western way of thinking, more so, the western way of consuming. I’m constantly reminded of all the things we do that are harmful, and all the things we waste without any care. It’s alarming. It’s frustrating. And sometimes, it just pisses me off completely. But I’ve had to take a step back, it isn’t fair for me to subject everyone else to the same mindset and it isn’t right for me to be angry with someone who hasn’t had the same experience. I spoke with my good friend Danielle last night, who volunteers summers in Poland to help abused orphans, and it was such a meaningful conversation for me. Being able to talk to someone about similar heart wrenching and beautiful experiences is just what I needed during this phase. I can talk someone blue in the face about their wasteful consumption or their ignorant attitudes but I think sometimes it’s just best to leave them be. And I’m not sure if that’s the right idea either. Suggestions are one thing, but people are stubborn. Is it best to leave someone in their own little bubble? Even though that bubble is floating around, affecting everyone else? I’m not completely sure. But, as Danielle said, if I can impact one person then that is enough. Whether it is a child in Rwanda or a friend over here, being a positive change in someone’s life is an accomplishment in itself. I’m not going to change the world, but changing one person is enough.

I think it’s alarming I walked right into the controversy of American Sniper, and I think I pissed off quite a few people when I shared Seth Rogan’s tweet regarding the similarities between Inglorious Bastard’s Nazi movie premiere and American Sniper. Perhaps I’m just overly sensitive now, but I can’t help but to see the connection. Propaganda is a powerful thing – powerful more so when it goes around undetected. We can fight the obvious displays, using our egos to say we won’t be brainwashed but these little projects can be equally damaging in a way that we don’t even notice. I haven’t seen the film, but I’ve seen the reactions and it scares me. Some people have said that it’s those own people’s fault for generating hate from it, or that these people always had a predisposition to hate – but it’s still bringing the hate to the platform. Maybe I am ‘too soft’ now, but I just don’t see the allure of it all. I don’t think watching a man kill a bunch of people, deserving or not, entertainment. And I can’t imagine Rwandans would ever make a movie like this, I imagine their reactions – what? Why would we want to see that? The man suffered, his targets suffered, all victims to war and hate – why would we want to film that? People have said it gives an accurate glimpse into war, but I haven’t seen anyone really pitying the man for his sacrifice or feeling an urge to help those with PTSD – it’s mostly been all about ‘those f***ng Iraqis’ – ‘those savages.’ I’m around teenagers all the time in my job, and their reactions terrify me. Maybe if I wasn’t in a position to be around high school students I wouldn’t have such a disturbing view of the movie’s ramifications but I do, and it frightens me.

The use of language can be manipulated in so many ways; you control a language, you control a nation. I keep getting flashbacks of this one moment in the Kigali memorial center where one of the foreign paper examples used the words “Tribal Violence” to describe what was happening in Rwanda. Tribes?? What tribes? There weren’t any tribes in Rwanda. But you know, as an American reading this, the words tribal immediately distances you from the problem. These aren’t people with personalities and families – they’re savages and barbarians fighting over something you just can’t understand. Why bother helping them? They’re wild and untamed, there’s nothing we can do. They probably don’t understand love and compassion the way we Americans do, there is no way they’re able to think on the same level as us. Tribes will be tribes; violence will happen and oh well, that’s unfortunate. Those poor uneducated souls...

One word and your perception changes.

But, as I’ve mentioned throughout all of my blogs… Rwandans are the teachers. We should be learning from them on how to treat each other, how to love one another and how to forgive. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Rwanda has stolen my heart. I’ve been all over Europe and it has indeed been beautiful, but Rwanda’s entire world is beautiful. The people are what make it so incredible, their love and their understanding. Their dreams, their passions, their openness to the world. It makes me frustrated and sad when I hear the remarks and see the facial expressions from people when I told them I was going to Africa, or now that I’ve just returned. We're the ones who don’t understand, we’re the ones who need something to learn. We’ve taken the humanity out of our culture and replaced it with business and logistics. Rwanda is developing quickly and possibly may be the central IT hub of the entire continent. I hope they don’t fall victim to the same mistakes we have.

But, I’ll be there again.  I’ll be there to witness this development and hopefully continue finding positives. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I’m hoping a career or volunteer opportunity will emerge by the time I graduate. If not, I’ve made contact with a Peace Corps recruiter. Rwanda has changed me, and I want to give back as much as it’s given me. I hope I find my way back, I’m determined to. I said in my first post that I felt fate brought me on this trip, and I feel that it is true. I feel a great urge to return.

I'm pleased to say that the fund for Pacifique's children has already reached $1,300! I cannot believe the amount of support that has come our way, I'm so excited to see what happens in the future. He is working on his new cultural center, and had his interview with CNN this morning! Cannot wait until it airs!!

This blogging requirement has been interesting. I’ve always wanted to document my traveling but I’ve never allotted enough time to do so. Being required to write about my time in Rwanda was very therapeutic and I’m glad I’ll be able to reflect on my time for years to come. It’s been an odd experience having my thoughts read publicly. I’m not one who shares my writing, I’ve never been given an opportunity… I’ve never seeked one either. There’s something unnerving about allowing others into your thoughts, making you feel naked and exposed. Especially given the time constraints, I’ve had to publish first drafts and hope they sounded alright, further adding to insecurity. What has been given was a raw emotional mess on screen and I hope that has moved you enough. I’m not sure how anyone felt reading these blogs, but I hope I was able to describe and emulate this wonderful experience. I think it’s an impossible task, but I hope I got close enough.