Bookmark and Share

My daily walk to work always feels like a grand event. Within minutes of emerging from my home, the neighborhood children announce my arrival with joyful shouts of “Muzungu! Muzungu!,” a term used to describe foreigners. My procession up the hill is usually accompanied by two or three of the children brazen enough to follow me wherever I go. The words “Good Morning, Sir” and “How are you?” echo across the valley, often coming from unknown sources.  After months of walking the same route, their excitement never seems to wane.

The infectious happiness of the children in rural Rwanda is equally matched by the workers on the construction site where I work. At first, the idea of working on a construction site in a completely unfamiliar place was daunting. I did not know one word of Kinyarwanda, the local language, and was given the task to assist in overseeing nearly 100 laborers working on the construction of four houses. It was the daily greetings that I received from each and every one of the workers on site that slowly made me feel more comfortable. Each day, one of the workers would teach me a new word, as I helped them to learn English in return. As more time passed, I did not feel so much like a Muzungu, but a part of one large community.  I am grateful for their welcoming spirit, and the never-ending enthusiasm that I am greeted with, and look forward to, every morning.