Day 1: Exploring Kigali

As soon as we landed in Kigali yesterday I knew I was in for an experience of a lifetime, an experience like no other. I noticed several obvious cultural differences within minutes upon entering the country along with physical environment differences. A combination of these two factors and the class readings I have read so far really set my expectations high for the remainder of the trip.

Exploring the streets of Kigali. Rwanda is known as the “land of a thousand hills”.

​Before the trip, I was very unsure about what to expect due to my lack of knowledge about Rwanda. All I knew was that I was going to a place completely different than what I am accustomed to. I was extremely excited to interact with the locals, experience their society’s culture and way of life, eat the local cuisine, and most of all, learning about the incredible history of the nation.

On day one in Kigali we made a short exploration of our surroundings – a trip to the supermarket for groceries and toiletries and to the Kigali International Community School (KICS), where we will be spending time with the students later in the trip. From our hotel at the top of the hill, we walked down through the town to both locations. On the way to KICS, I saw moped taxis, locals performing incredible balancing acts while walking with various goods on top of their heads, beautiful homes in neighborhoods scattered across the mountains, and much more. When we got to the school we had an icebreaker activity where we all talked about our motives for joining the class. It was really eye opening to hear my classmate’s perspectives and to learn a little bit about them. At the grocery store I had to stock up on snacks, juices and water. The five gallon jug of water that I had to carry back to the hotel really taught me a small lesson in Rwandan culture.

The biggest thing that stuck out to me about the physical environment was the lack of trash. Everyone I spoke to about this trip spoke very highly about the cleanliness of the city, but I was still very shocked to see how spotless the environment seemed. With this particular climate I have seen some very beautiful and exotic plants people use to decorate their yards. In America I tend to see a lot of uncared for landscape designs but it seems as if there is not a stray leaf or blade of grass in sight. This speaks volumes to me about the pride instilled in Rwandans for the betterment of their city and country.

I have only been in this beautiful country for a little over a day now and from what I have seen, read, and heard through word of mouth I am very excited for what this trip has to offer me and I know my group and I will take full advantage of this opportunity.

-Vinny Mihota

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