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A Semester in Rwanda


Arrived almost 48 hours ago after 18 hrs traveling. The first thing you notice is the weather: warm but dry. It surprised me because it's dark early but balmy. And there are the palm trees and summer growing things smells. I spent the next day doing the two most important things: visa and internet. The visa was a confusing process since you have to apply (preferably online although it doesn't seem to save you any steps) and then take a number to present your papers and then go somewhere else and pay and then return to get a tracking number. And then wait 3 days. I was startled when they took my passport (and keep it until the visa comes through). Perhaps I've seen too many movies.

The next step was internet. Boring but important.Or I wouldn't be writing to you right now. 

And today, I did two monumental things: bought a French Press and went to KIST. Apparently there was a sudden change in schedule last weekend: school starts THIS week. However, students were not aware of it, let alone profs. I certainly was surprised. Perhaps 'surprised' is going to be my word here. I did find out that graduation had been rescheduled to tomorrow and I've been outfitted with a cap and gown to participate.

All of this explanation is pretty dry. And no pictures yet. It's a texture thing: the hills, the cool sun, the bustle in the streets with people walking! walking! walking! or taking motos that cruise around continuously looking for paying riders. There are vans and taxis and some cars and zebra cross walks that mean nothing (did you first parse that as "zebra" bc I'm in Africa?) . The first time I went out, I felt ambushed by the newness, by the disconnect you feel when you don't understand anything anyone is saying, the rush of a thousand details different than the back drop you've been taking for granted. By the second and third trips, things seemed to settle down into categories: okay, just a store, okay just an intersection, okay just two people talking. Perhaps the trick with noticing is ignoring the superfluous.

Okay, getting philosophical; time to stop. I have to be at graduation at 7:30/ 8 am.


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Associate Professor Nanette Veilleux has been awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach computer engineering at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in Rwanda. Follow along on her journey.


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This site is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author (Nanette Veilleux) and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.