When can I leave again?

Before I travel, I always feel an anxious, nervous excitement. Going new places, seeing new things, and meeting new people is always like taking a step into the unknown. Yet, every time I travel I am reminded why traveling out of the country is so worth it. This trip gave me a hundred reasons why I should study abroad again and keep traveling to new places.  

From the minute we got to Rwanda, I felt more comfortable than I expected. Everyone we met was so welcoming. It seemed that every restaurant, hostel, and organization we visited started by telling us how welcome we were. It also helped that our group was great. Everyone was flexible and willing to take things as they came. One thing that I really appreciated was that we were all willing to share what we had, making it easier to experience everything possible and to be safe and happy. Another thing that made me feel so welcome and secure in Rwanda was our wonderful tour guide Yvan. He answered every question we had, made sure we got a chance to experience everything that we could, and went above and beyond to make sure we were having a good time and saying safe.

Another reason the trip way so great was the amazing things we did. Gorilla trekking was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will remember forever. The safari showed me a new way to appreciate animals and has made me reconsider how I see zoos. The canopy walk offered amazing views and pushed me to do something that was a little scary. All of these amazing excursions showed me different environments and wildlife in different parts of Rwanda and were a great way to break from the heaviness of our study of genocide and reconciliation. 

Finally, the academic piece of this study abroad was incredibly eye opening. The memorial sites offered new information about the genocide and different perspectives and stories to tell about it. Visiting the reconciliation villages and various NGOs and nonprofits offered a view of the amazing work being done today and gave an overwhelming sense of hope. Everywhere we went I got the sense that people were doing everything in their power to make Rwanda their home again and to improve the country for the future. With this, I felt that most people we met with wanted us to share with the world what we had experienced, to tell others that Rwanda is recovering and has so much to offer the world. Going to the PIASS workshop confirmed this. The students we met were incredibly welcoming and most were focusing their studies on peace and conflict studies. In that room, there was a great sense of hope for the future and an obvious desire to fix problems they saw in their countries.

I will never forget the experiences I had, the people I met and the things I saw on this trip. I still can’t believe I got this opportunity and hope that Hamline students in the future will be able to find their own adventures all over the world to broaden their perspectives and give them a new view of different areas of the world. Thank you so much Professor Embser-Herbert and Caroline Hilk for making this possible, keeping us safe, and for being so amazing!

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