Saturday, May 29, 2010

Marabou Stork

I just put up two new posts, but I just had to add this one as well. Thanks to Jo C who found this info on one of the more peculiar sitings on our trip to Tanzania, I introduce you to the Marabou Stork.

Marabou Stork

To the casual observer the massive Marabou Stork with its balding, scabby head and pendulous pink air sac may appear to be one of the ugliest creatures in the world. If this same observer were to notice the Marabou's fondness for carrion and its habit of squirting excrement onto its own legs he or she would probably consider the original opinion to be justified. It takes a real bird lover to see past all of this stork's bizarre adornments to recognize the scruffy charm underneath.

For more, And I picture that I couldn't upload, see


May 26

Before I came to Africa I remember struggling with finding my place, as many new graduate do, in that strange period between the comforts of college and the security of settling - the vastness of an unknown life ahead of me. I had a strong hold on who I was, but a slippery grasp of who i was to the rest of the world.

Now, in Rwanda, finding my place looks very different from when I was in America. In some sense it's easier.  A clearly defined role as a volunteer, as an American, as a voluntary outsider (by color and culture at least), the new friendships in my community, and the comradeship of other volunteers in the same position all help define my place in Rwanda, making it feel at home. But in a different way, a more subtle way, home is difficult to establish. With all the new surroundings, it's not hard to detach or distance myself from this new home, to be distracted from my work here, or to sort of turn the autopilot on: going through the motions of teaching, building friendships, and working around cultural barriers.

A friend from home recently sent me a prayer (as she does every month - thanks!!) on this subject. Here's part of it: 
   "Do not let it sit in. Teach him to embrace it, knowing and constantly thanking you for the world you placed him in and the knowledge you have given him to pass to others. Bring back a childlike faith in him to relearn everything in the new surroundings... Let him find your presence in every piece of the surroundings. How can one yearn for anything more than your presence?"          

A couple days before I left Cleveland for Jamestown to begin packing for Rwanda, I heard a worship song that said, "I finally found where I belong, in Your presence." I'm finding it's true, in any situation. I can travel the world, alone or with life long friends, and I know where I belong. I always have a place. 

Warm sun on my back, cool breeze on my face. Smell of freshly cut grass. Hum of birds' wings around me... a world of open doors... 

Marato Amahoro

May 24

This weekend my fellow volunteer and friend Mitesh and I ran in the 6th annual International Peace Marathon (Marato Amahoro) in Kigali, Rwanda. Mitesh ran the full marathon and I ran the half  It was the first marathon experience for both of us, so we didn't quite know what to expect. 

In all the months of training leading up to the marathon, I was running alone (accept for the crowd of 20 little kids chasing me on their way to or from school), so it was exciting to arrive at the stadium surrounded by over a thousand other runners from all over the world. We met a man who was traveling the world running a marathon a week for one year (52 marathons!!). Last week he was in China, next week Hungary. Another man from America visiting for the week to run and do some orphanage work, and several people from Belgium and Germany and Japan, some working in Rwanda, others visiting. And of course there were all the east African countries competing, including the Kenyan runners - best in the world. There were young kids and even older women (they ran the five kilometer fun run) and a race for wheelchairs too. 

The race began an hour behind schedule, 9am instead of 8am., which meant the hot sun, unabated by the thin line of clouds in a predomiately blue sky, was scorching by midday. I have a nice tan - note to self, the rainy season is now officially over; wear sunscreen! My first lap felt great - I was pacing myself just as planned, but as the day grew hotter and the water stations started running out of water (go figure) the second lap was more grueling and I slowed down by 8 minutes (the half marathon route was two big laps around the city, the marathon four). I was amazed to see that the Kenyans were lapping me - ugh. Also, there was a guy with only one leg who ran the half marathon on his crutches. That's incredible.         

I finished the half marathon in 2:13:07, which put me in 235th place out of about 500. The top runners were all African, mostly Kenyan - 1:04 was the best time. The first place marathon runner was around 2:46, which is really good considering the heat, the hills, and the altitude. It's just amazing what these runners can do!!

All in all, well worth it. But I think I'll stick to biking for my exercise for the rest of my year here :)  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Questions for teacher Kyle

In an effort to build better relationships with my students and to make classes more fun, I told my students to write down any questions that they have about me. Well, I am sitting in front of a stack of over a hundred pieces of paper with questions I'm supposed to answer over the course of this year. Here are some samplings:

- You are married? (the number one question)
- Have you all parents? (the number two question)
- In America do you eat beans?   
- Teacher Kyle is a teacher know many language kinyarwanda, Kiswahili, English, ...    (HA!)
- You can help the poverty?   
- How many children and wives do you have in America?
- Have you woman?
- What is the meaning of LosAngels?
 - You know today USA has black president is miraclous to you what you think about it?
- Why change the country from America to Rwanda?
- I would like to know your mortal status?
- If you know French I will tell more about the road to success.   (!?!?)
- Can you perform to take me in USA if possible?
- Which type of religion do you pray in? 
- How do you compare the climate modification of Rwanda and USA?
- How have years old?
- I wont to know a news about a superstar in the music.
- I need to know the names of your parents. 
- You know a date of your birthday?
- Can I see a poor person in America like in Africa?
- Some people say that in America in your country there are some people who have the heart of help other like us student the ones of us the money is difficult I say school feese. When you go in America you will tell them this problem?