My Rwandan Experience – Alexis Burrus

My trip in Rwanda was so amazing; it’s hard to put in to words. This trip exceeded my expectations in many ways and I made some unforgettable experiences with people I will remember for the rest of my lifetime. When I first got to the Indianapolis airport, I’ve got to be honest; I was not all that excited to board the plan. I had other things on my mind and felt as though this trip came at a bad time due to my personal issues at the time. The plane ride was long but after we landed in Rwanda, my spirit instantly changed. It clicked in my mind that I am in the motherland, and I’ve been extremely blessed to make it to this place people only dream to go.
Coming off the airplane we headed the city Kigali. The first person I remember meeting was Abdu the driver. He had such a great attitude and was always smiling. He always had a heart of gold and made the bus rides fun. One of our first adventures was the canopy walk, which was a bridge one hundred feet in the air. It gave me a fright because I absolutely hate heights. But I conquered my fears and went for it. That was an amazing day, and I felt already we were becoming closer as a class. And becoming like one big happy family. The next couple of days we went on a hike and it was to the well-known waterfall. The process getting there was rough, but well worth it in the end. Seeing the beautiful raw nature Rwanda had to offer was breathtaking and definitely picture perfect. When we had free time, we had the opportunity to walk amongst the village and see the beautiful people. The look of on those kids’ faces were full of curiosity. Once you speak to them, they are so nice and joyful. The village had an amazing view of the mountains leading up to the volcanoes, and beautiful plants.

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After the first two weeks flew by, next stop was the city Musanze where we would meet the teachers/translators we will be working with at Kbwende primary school. The second person I remember meeting was Simon Pierre. Simon was an amazing man to work with and was a professor at Apicure college in Musanze. Simon Pierre had a great passion for his students and had a sincere and fun personality to match. I later met Onesphore who was the teacher that was working Allie Wallace and I for our subject, Practical English. He was very helpful throughout the process of camp. All the other teachers/translators such as Julianne, Jolesse and Rasheed were very resourceful and always offered a helping hand when it was needed.
We first provided each and every student with a book from the Books and Beyond organization. The students couldn’t wait to get their hands on the book, instantly reading soon as they received it. It was a great feeling to give out books and to know that we added to their book collection at home. Also knowing that they will gain more knowledge on how to read, write and comprehend in the English language. The first day of camp I was a bit nervous because I wanted to do well and keep the students intrigued. It ended up surpassing my expectations, and was an excellent first day. The children at Kbwende were really ambitious and valued their education. My students came in everyday, well behaved, ready to learn. I mainly focused on word pronunciation in my class with letters that were difficult to say. Repetition was a key part of success in my classroom, as my students constantly went over all the material. . Being a teacher, I definitely saw all the work that has to be put into it. You want your students to be successful and want to do the best to your abilities. We took on tasks such as lesson planning every day, working with our partners, and also dealing with language barriers. Through it all it was worth it and we all were very proud of our hard work and achievements.

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I can honestly say I really grew to love my students. They always had smiling faces, and even though I taught them, they taught me also. They taught me to value and be grateful for the little things that we in America so often forget. To not take for granted the gift of education, but to take full advantage of it and always try your best. People say education is the key to success, and many have proved that to be true. Simon Pierre is an incredible example of that. My students and their progress throughout camp are on their way to success. And I believe that every one of them can achieve their goals in the future.
The friendships I’ve made will never be broken. We will remain in contact even though this journey has ended. I appreciate Rwanda for taking us in and always treating us with dignity and respect. Rwanda was my first overseas experience and I’m so grateful that it was. I will have memories I will cherish forever from the land of a thousand hills.

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