Yvonne: So Greta, what has been your favorite part of this trip so far?
Greta: I have enjoyed it all, but one of my favorite places that we went to was the reconciliation village in Mbyo. A reconciliation village is a village where perpetrators and survivors, as well as returned refugees, of the 1994 genocide live together in peace. When we first got there, some of the village elders welcomed us with a song and dance, which everyone enjoyed! After the welcoming, they gave us a brief history of the genocide and their village. A man admitted to killing six people and said that he lost humanity. He told us that he was very heavily influenced by the government to kill, but now through asking and receiving forgiveness from the family of his victims, he has repaired his lost humanity. After he spoke, a survivor spoke about her experiences during the genocide. They now both live happily in the same village and work together to move forward, “I feel like I’m in heaven!” said the man who spoke about killing.
Greta: Today we went to Never Again Rwanda and to the African Great Lakes Initiative, what did you think of these visits?
Yvonne: I thought both of the visits were unique approaches to teaching youth about peace efforts in Rwanda. The first location, Never Again Rwanda was centered towards youth ages 14 to 28. One of the speakers was a professor at the national university. Compared to some of the other places where we have heard the history of the genocide, his reflected some of the academic discussion on the genocide. I enjoyed this style of discussion because not only is it familiar but it added another layer to my understanding of what happened and the type of debate that is happening in some of the schools in Rwanda. In my opinion, education in the form of debates and the emphasis on critical thinking is one of the greatest steps they are taking towards reconciliation here. The other place that we visited was in line with this focus on education but they target primary 5 students (the equivalent of fifth graders). The place we went to was a small library called the Children’s Peace Library. I finally had the opportunity to play some soccer, which was a nice chance to interact with the kids and have some fun (though I have been having fun everywhere we go). The library was a great example of what the people at Never Again Rwanda talked about, which was that small efforts could contribute a huge change for peace.
Yvonne: We have consistently been eating at a lot of great restaurants and even breakfast every morning has been pretty tasty. What has been your favorite food that you have eaten here so far?
Greta: Fou Fou at Afrika Bite! It has been my favorite food because I grew up eating it in Côte d’Ivoire and I haven’t had the real African Fou Fou since.
Greta: What are you looking forward to for the remainder of this trip?
Yvonne: I think this weekend is going to be really exciting. I am really looking forward to getting some sun and hanging out by the pool at the Hotel des Milles Collines - the hotel that the movie 'Hotel Rwanda' is based on. It is going to be surreal to be swimming at the hotel where historic events of the genocide occurred. Then hopefully we will be able to see some great animals on Saturday and Sunday at Akagera National Park on our morning and afternoon safaris. From what I can see, the next half of our trip is going to be just as great as the first half, if not better.
Greta and Yvonne: Mzungu* out!
*Mzungu: Kinyarwanda for white person/foreigners