Muraho neza! (Hello)

I am currently sat looking out at the beautiful sunset on a very calm Lake Kivu in the mountainous setting of Ishara beach and reflecting on my summer fellowship to Rwanda so far. We are here on a mission to train Rwandan teachers, share practice and hopefully help towards making a sustainable impact on education in a country which is not as privileged to have as many resources as we do.

Why choose to teach abroad in Africa?

I made the decision to come to Rwanda when I read about the international Fellowship after seeing it on social media. I fell in love with the offer of LRTT and thought that a summer volunteering, bringing together my passions for teaching and travelling seemed like an offer I couldn’t resist. I had never been to Africa before and something about Rwanda made me know that it was going to be a country I’d like to explore. So after months of planning, fundraising and preparation, I finally journeyed to Heathrow to meet other nervous teachers and travel across the world to the city of Kigali.

“Teachers touch eternity”

I have now been in Rwanda for just under one week and it is fair to say that I am already falling in love with this beautiful country, “the land of a thousand hills”. We have certainly had some wonderful and eye-opening experiences and I have been so humbled by the friendliness of everyone here. I’d like to share with you some of the experiences we have had overseas:

6–9 August

Conference One - Rangiro School

Maria with her group of Rwandan teachers during their workshops

It is now Friday morning and I am writing whilst feeling absolutely exhausted after the end of our first conference, but completely buzzed from how much I learned and how much we achieved as a team; we are really feeling a spirit of togetherness. The conference started with an opening ceremony where we greeted everyone and the team leaders gave some emotional and motivating speeches; Emma told us all “teachers touch eternity” and it really felt as though we were one.

Myself and Ruth worked with a growing number of Rwandan teachers each day, alongside our lead teacher Celestin who helped to deliver some of the sessions. We learned a lot from each other and Celestin taught us some great Rwandan songs which we started every day with! There were many challenges but many successes too and one teacher I found particularly inspiring was Alodie. Alodie is a mother of two and every day she walked to the conference with her 3-month old son on her back, all so that she could spend her holidays training and trying to improve her practice; she was incredibly committed and a wonderful teacher to work with. This has opened my eyes to what we can do if we put our mind to it and really makes me think more about what Emma said and the importance of our profession on the next generation and those to come.

I am really looking forward to sitting down with Ruth again and reflecting further on the first conference to see how we can improve the second. But first, some much-needed rest time!

10–12 August

Nyungwe Forest

We have just got back from an awesome weekend excursion to Nyungwe Forest! We had great fun exploring the local area and enjoying some of Rwanda’s tourism highlights. The trek to see the chimpanzees was great fun and full of challenging trekking up and down to find them. Once we had found the chimps, we stayed and watched them go about their everyday life — eating, cuddling, sleeping and one of the chimps decided to give us a golden shower!

13-16 August

Conference Two - ES Gafunzo

We have now completed conference two and the hard work is over! It was such a rewarding experience. We absolutely loved the opportunity to improve and adapt our sessions as well as learn lots from our new teachers. We had a big group of 15 keen teachers who were dedicated and really passionate about their jobs, as well as a lead teacher who worked really hard to make her sessions useful for everyone and led her sessions with her baby on her back! We have learned a lot and I hope the Rwandan teachers did too. My favourite moment of the week was the last day of micro-teaching sessions, where the teachers showed off what they had learned and taught a mini-lesson to everyone. It was so great to watch the teachers come to life and to use some of what we had discussed that week and it certainly left us in high spirits for the closing ceremony!

So we are now spending a few days enjoying the wonderful country together and some much-needed relaxation at Lake Kivu before heading back to Kigali and flying home to London. Thanks to everyone involved in LRTT Rwanda 2018, you have been awesome!

Murakozi cyane!

Written by Maria Morris

Rwanda 2018 Fellow

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