RESPECT, EMPATHY, INCLUSION

What are you running for? (Stephanie)

(Stephanie is a “guest blogger” from Occidental College -class of 2011. – in Rwanda for a month) 

 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
In the mornings, Amy and I have been trying to run to get some
exercise in our neighborhood of Kabeza, Kigali. Besides shouting
“Masungu!” which means white person in Kinyarwandan, everyone likes to watch us run and laughs, because here no one runs just for fun. Little kids like to imitate us running and often times join us.

The other day while I was running a man asked me “What are you doing?” and I replied, “Running.” The he asked, “Why?” and when I said, “Just because” he burst out laughing because to many Rwandans running for no reason is such a foreign concept and is silly. In the US, running is so commonplace as a form of exercise, but here many people walk where they need to go and when they do want to exercise they play sports, so there is no need to exercise by simply running.

On my run today I stopped to play some soccer with some children in the neighborhood. Their soccer ball was made of tightly wound up plastic bags (although now plastic bags are outlawed in Rwanda in effort to make the country a cleaner place) and was very small. Yet since it was so tightly wound, it is a ball that would probably never pop or break like a normal soccer ball. I kicked the ball around with them for a while which they greatly enjoyed, who knew that Masungus could play soccer too! All the children I’ve met so far are very energetic and adorable.

Although all Rwandans seem so friendly and always want to stop, converse with, and meet you, the children are especially excited to meet foreigners and their smiles always brighten your day.

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