Another terrific day in Kigali. Shortly after 10 am we went over to the Umubano Hotel and met with Peter, Amy, and Marie from Gashora, Linda and her parents and two younger brothers, and two representatives from the US Embassy. Peter had arranged for a lovely ramada on the back lawn and the weather was very cooperative. It was an absolutely lovely setting. We were even visited by three striking Grey Crowned Cranes, the national bird of Uganda!

Peter served as our master of ceremonies while various folks offered their comments. I then spoke and presented Linda with the certificate stating that she was receiving the scholarship. I also had Hamline bags with various Hamline swag to distribute. Thanks Gail and Caroline! Then others, such as Linda's dad and Linda, spoke to express their gratitude. All in all it was a fabulous little gathering and Ithink everyone enjoyed themselves. I'll try to post some photos another time.

Ann and I then went to the Belgium Troop Memorial, saw a lot of Kigali, went to Bourbon Coffee for a snack, went to the Caplaki Market for some souvenir time, saw more of Kigali, and then went out to dinner. We even saw the presidential motorcade. Right now I'm exhausted and need to pack, but I do want to post at another time about our visit to Heaven, a fabulous restaurant with a mission. Stay tuned and good night!


Back to Gashora

After a nice breakfast at our hotel, the Beausejour, Yvan - our fantastic guide from the 2012 trip - and the driver, Frank, picked us up. After a brief stop at the currency exchange and to pick up some water we headed to the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology. GGAST is about an hour south of Kigali. It turned out to be, at that point, a beautiful, sunny day for which I was grateful. We were greeted by the head of school, Peter, and several others including Linda, the recipient of a scholarship to Hamline University. Yippee!! It was great to finally meet her in person. A delightful young woman, she gave us a tour of the school and we then visited with Peter and Amy, the university counselor. Afterwards we ate a lunch of spaghetti, potatoes, and avocado while visiting with Linda and several other girls. Yes, it's true, there's never a lack of starches in my Rwandan diet.

On the way back to Kigali we paid our respects at Nyamata and Ntarama, two genocide memorial sites in Bugesera, an area particularly hard hit by killings both before and during the 1994 genocide. At Nyamata we heard from a survivor. Had we not needed to continue on our way, she might have talked all afternoon - and I would have remained riveted all afternoon. Though she survived with all five of her children, she lost all other family, immediate and extended. While in hiding, one day her husband left to find food. That was the last time she ever saw him. I still can't really grasp how people with such experiences cope with the loss...

Approaching Kigali the darkening skies opened up and the torrential rains began. It's the short rainy season, thus my gratitude for a beautiful day up to that point. After a short break - and wait for the rain to let up - we ventured up the street to Chez Lando where we each had a chicken and pineapple brochette (kebab) and veggie sambusa, what some of you may know as a samosa. While I enjoyed the sambusa, the brochettes were disappointing. But, I did get a Fanta Citron and saved the bottle top for my friend, the Pop Top Girl. So, that was day one. A success, I'd say - regardless of brochette disappointment. Stay tuned for a brief update after day two!


Back to Rwanda!

I thought that I'd use the blog from our May 2012 study abroad trip to post my thoughts about anything Hamline-Rwanda related, rather than starting yet another. And, I'm thrilled to write that one week from today I will be boarding my flight to Kigali, via Amsterdam.

During the 2012 trip, one of our site visits was to the Gashora Girls Academy, a project of the Rwanda Girls Initiative. My colleague, Kari, and I looked at each other, realizing we had the same thought, and said - words to the effect of - "We've got to get one of these girls to Hamline." Almost a year and half later, I have the honor of traveling to Rwanda to present one of Gashora's recent graduates with a scholarship to Hamline University. I encourage you to view this video to learn more about Gashora!

This is the current plan: We, my traveling companion - Ann Ness, our VP of Marketing and Enrollment Management - and I, will arrive in Kigali on Thursday evening, 7 November. On Friday, we will visit Gashora. On the way back we hope to stop at Ntarama and Nyamata. Ann has never traveled to Rwanda and I can't imagine going and not paying our respects at these memorials. On Saturday, we will meet the recipient's parents and present the scholarship. On Sunday, we will visit the Kigali Memorial Centre and, perhaps, a market. We fly out Sunday evening, back in the Twin Cities on Monday just after noon.

So, a real whirlwind trip. One day over, three days on the ground, a little more than one day back. And, yet, I can't wait. The opportunity to make my third trip to Rwanda is more than I could have dreamed when, in 2009, I first said, "Wouldn't it be great if we (Hamline) could do a study abroad to Rwanda?" Thanks, Kari!

If the hotel Internet is working I will try to post from the journey! Stay tuned!


Hamline Magazine and Begin

In the event that you are visiting this blog as a result of the Hamline Magazine article on our trip to Rwanda, thank you!

If you are hoping to find information regarding Begin, the non-profit seeking to provide sewing machines to women in Rwanda, please visit their site at or find them on facebook at

And, if you didn't see the magazine article, but would like to, click here!

Be well!