Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day 1: Getting To Know Agohozo Shalom Youth Village!

Greetings to our family and friends from Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village! I am Ben, a recently graduated senior from Philadelphia. We arrived late last night, after spending nearly 20 hours traveling from Boston, to Amsterdam, and finally to Kigali.  Today has been a wonderful whirlwind widening our horizons of the Village. Many of us awoke at the crack of dawn, 6am, to get breakfast with the students. Later in the morning, we met Rachel, the JDC fellow in charge of visitors.  She gave us a tour of the village.  There is the living area, with the students’ houses — named after famous people such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, King David, and Albert Einstein.  Upon arrival to ASYV, each student is assigned a house with 15 other members of their grades, they live with them for their whole time at ASYV, and with their house mama. We also saw the dining hall, the farm, the Mango Tree, the Science Center, and myriad other buildings before finally making our way to a school. Amazingly, this was all before noon! After a short break, we met with JC, the director of ASYV. He told us about his educational background, and how he found his way to the Village. It was lovely speaking with him, as he has a wealth of knowledge about Rwanda, ASYV, and he happily answered all of our questions.

            Hello Internet followers! My name is Miriam and I am a rising sophomore at Tufts. I’m from outside Washington, D.C. and most likely majoring in International Relations. We arrived to ASYV after dark last night, and so this morning when we woke up was our first time seeing the village in the light. All my impressions and generalizations of Africa being dry and barren were shattered the instant I stepped outside. The village is located on top of a hill and you can see lush, green hills stretching on for miles, broken up only by scattered lakes and the patchwork of thin red lines that signify roads or plots of farmland. Paired with the slight mist rising off the trees and the blooming flowers all around it was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
The thing that struck me the most as we flew in to the airport in Kigali was the incredible darkness – unlike most plane landings, there were almost no lights shining up as we approached the ground and now it was easy to see why. The hills are thick and green but the surrounding villages are sparse and spread out. Plus with the unreliability of electricity it’s unsurprising that I didn’t realize we had landed until we were already on the ground. The upside to all the darkness however is an incredible view of the stars and despite being horribly sleep-deprived and jetlagged, I managed to appreciate the view for a few minutes.

Tomorrow we will be visiting the capital, Kigali, for the first time during the day and I’m very excited to see how that looks as well and to experience the rest of the trip!!

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