Setting Up and Starting Up

Hilda

Hilda out and about.

The school year is officially underway! The past month and a half has been a whirlwind of getting settled in our new environment as well as preparing to start the school year.
We arrived in Rwanda with one week of “extra” time before our work officially started. I am so thankful for that week! We spent the time getting our house set up, learning where to go for food and household items, and finding a car. We quickly learned that shopping is not as straightforward as you might think. In a way, I think it would be better to see ourselves as treasure hunters rather than shoppers… it really is a whole different experience here.

There are many items available in Kigali; however, just because you see something once, doesn’t mean you’ll see it again. Dog food has been a pretty good example of this. We went to at least four places searching for dog food, then we found it, but we’ve never seen it there again (side note: it cost three times as much as it would have in the U.S.). Looks like it’s back to rice and beans for you, Hilda.

KICS

The Hanlons and our friend, Katie at the KICS kick-off night. (So great to have you visit, Katie!)

Since our first set-up week, the majority of my time has been spent on school work. The school routine feels fairly similar to what it was like in the U.S. The first few weeks were full of training and hours and hours of lesson planning, as well as preparing my classroom. We did have a short-term mission team at our school during our set-up time and they were a HUGE help in organizing our classrooms and helping us get things ready for the students.

Although teaching feels pretty normal, there are a few noticeable differences. One is that I only have 15 students! Seriously… this is a dream situation (okay, if I was going to be really picky I would choose 14 or 16 students so I could have even groups, but that would be just pure perfection!). Most of the students in my class are East African and then I have a few students from the US, UK, and South Korea. I love the richness of cultural diversity in my class. Although I’m familiar teaching in an environment where I am of a different culture than my students, I’m continuing to grow in my cross-cultural communication and teaching. I’d appreciate your prayer in this, as well as prayer for each of my students as they continue the new school year.

classroom

My class during a math lesson.

Overall, my work is really wonderful, but there are a few things that are challenging to work around. The power does go out a few times a day, which is obviously inconvenient, but we are fortunate to have a generator at the school that helps. The power is usually back on within 10 minutes. Also, good news — the school does have internet. Bad news — it can’t really accommodate the entire school using it, so we can’t stream anything while teaching and it sometimes moves like a snail (sort of like we are back in the 90s with dial-up).

Overall, I would say that life has been good here, and we’re very thankful for a smooth transition. We definitely miss our friends and family (and cheese…and ice cream…and chocolate ;)) but we really appreciate all of the encouragement and support from everyone we left at home while we continue to make Kigali home.