Friday, October 29, 2010

Pre-Service Training

I am currently in the district of Nyanza in Kigali, where my pre-service training will be conducted. This includes classes on Kinyarwanda, cultural integration, technical training (education), medical information, and safety and security. I live with 10 other trainees in Ubumwe (unity) house, which is a five minute walk from the training center. In addition, we live with two LCFs (Language and Culture Facilitators). These are Rwandans who have been trained to teach Kinyarwanda as well as help us adjust to the culture on a day-to-day basis.

Tuesday I was introduced to my resource family. Because Rwanda is a new program, we do not live with host families on a daily basis, but dine with resource families on a twice weekly basis. Rwandan parents usually refer to themselves by the name of their first child. The oldest daughter, Christella, went by Chri-Chri as a child and so my parents, Concessa and Dominique, are Mama and Papa Chri-Chri. In addition to Christella, Mama and Papa Chri-Chri have four children. The youngest, Pamphile, is in nursing school (similar to Pre-K) and is just learning numbers. Since I am learning numbers too, we count together. Christella is studying (I think Biology) at a university in Butare. Since about one percent of the Rwandan population achieve this level of education, this is impressive.

I've showed my resource family pictures of my own family and friends. Though Rwandans generally marry later than people in other developing countries (I think somewhere around the ballpark of 23-26, but I'm not sure), they were surprised to learn that Americans tend to marry even later. They were also very impressed by that I knew someone of Korean descent (Yes, Connie, this is you).

Mama and Papa Chri-Chri are both science teachers and speak French, some English and a little bit of Swahili. During visits to the house, we usually point at various objects and teach each other the Kinyarwanda and English meanings. Even though our communication is strained over the language barrier, I feel connected to them by our mutual aspiration to speak many tongues.

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