Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The U.S. Embassy reads Twilight.

Thursday, July 14

This morning was a little chaotic, as our post-tea break schedule did not go according to plan. In the morning, a man from the African Union spoke to us about the role of the AU in today's society. Unfortunately, like we've heard so many times before, the AU did not act to stop the genocide while it was occurring, but it has measures in place today to prevent another tragedy like it.

After our tea break, the schedule said we would have free time to use the library and work on our projects. Kiela and Colbey planned to go to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, which they missed last Sunday because they had still been en route to Rwanda. But some miscommunication and other problems led to the bus being M.I.A., which left them with no transportation. Additionally, Bea had scheduled a visit to a Catholic health clinic, which Colbey wanted to attend because he is pre-med. Basically, by the time anything got figured out, it was almost lunchtime. I decided to stay at IGSC and catch up on my notes and journal as much as possible.

After lunch, we visited the U.S. Embassy in Kigali and spoke to a political officer and a program officer from USAID. While waiting for our speakers, we sat in the library for a few minutes. It was there that I noticed there was a Twilight book on the shelf. Really? If I remember correctly, it was actually Breaking Dawn. Sad day. I'm comforted by the thought that maybe Harry Potter is in the British embassy!

Photo courtesy of SmugMug.

The embassy officers did not talk much about the U.S.'s role during the genocide but rather focused on what America has been doing since then to help Rwanda rebuild. The embassy has helped with the nation's changing needs by providing humanitarian and emergency aid directly after the genocide, then assisting with improvements in agriculture and AIDS prevention beginning around 1998, then developing justice and infrastructure beginning in 2000, and finally helping implement presidential initiatives beginning in 2004. I learned there are four government departments that offer jobs in foreign service: the Department of State, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and USAID. New career path, possibly?

Also at the embassy, I suddenly realized that the graduate student on our trip was old enough to remember the genocide; she was actually graduating high school when it happened. I asked her what the public perception had been while the genocide was occurring. "We thought it was a tribal war," she answered. "We didn't think we should get involved." She added that by the time the atrocities were being broadcasted on the news every night, it was already late May (over a month into the genocide). It was only then that she and her peers started realizing something bad was happening, and they had let it slip by.

The day ended with dinner at Shokola, where we were able to order our own dishes instead of eating from the buffet we usually had at meals. I opted for the chicken quesadilla, "with onions, peppers, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo." I assumed this meant the quesadilla would have onions and peppers in it, with the other toppings on the side. As you can see from this picture, it was actually the opposite:

I felt a little lame for eating a quesadilla in Africa, but I decided I wanted to see what "ethnic food" was like in other countries. In addition to the strange switch in vegetables, the tortilla was very doughy, almost sweet. Overall, it was a good dinner!

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