By: Kyra Hanlon, Georgetown University, ThinkImpact Rwanda Scholar
After more than two full weeks in Binunga, daily life has settled into a rhythm: the rooster reminds me every morning that 5:30 is a good time to wake up (or at least makes it difficult to fall back asleep), I’ve learned that the proper response to “muzungu” (foreigner) is “inshuti” (friend), and I’m adapting my East Coast mentality to Rwandan time. Of course, there have been many jolting moments along the way that remind me to stay present, inquisitive, and reflective rather than let these next five weeks slide by in a blur of daily activities. Some of these moments include trying to convince a university bound Rwandan student that poverty exists in America, seeing villagers wearing the jerseys of my hometown football team, and realizing that the EAGLES, EAGLES! Chant might not register with them, and hearing about the personal ways that the events of 20 years ago impact people’s lives today.
This week in itself constitutes a jolting moment within the program as we assemble our design teams that we will be working with for the rest of the summer to share and realize profitable and innovative solutions to opportunities within the community. In essence, this week is a springboard to the rest of our summer here in Binunga. While its easy to put pressure on myself through this part of the program, I have my yogi mom’s voice in my ear telling me to breathe through the transition and ThinkImpact’s practice of trusting the process to guide me. And so far, the process feels trustworthy – I really enjoy how reflective and intentional each step has been. For example, design team creation involved many rounds of brainstorming criteria and then applying the criteria to the individuals we’ve met in the past two weeks. We then analyzed individuals’ assets and character traits, and compared our lists to build dynamic groups. The most exciting element of this process is that, at the end of the day, we’re not just trusting a process; we’re trusting people we believe in to believe in themselves and propel their community towards a more sustainable future.
The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author of this article do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University or any employee thereof.