Friday, 11 May 2012

The amazing goodbye

On Wednesday it was time to say my official goodbye at the TTC, even if I did sneak back in for a couple of hours today. So I got all dressed up for the part in my Mushanana, the traditional Rwandan dress for women. I knew the students would love it and I wanted to make some effort as I knew the students and staff had been very busy planning something special for me. Well the Mushanana did the trick as I received a round of applause as soon as I walked through the gates of the TTC!  

So after a couple more hours the ceremony started. There was singing, dancing, poems written about me, songs written about me and speeches written about me. It felt like national Camilla day, I have never felt so appreciated in all my life! And it definitely brought a few tears to my eyes, which I had to keep in check because it is not the done thing here to show too much emotion in public. The students had made some amazing gifts for me, including a huge 3D model of the TTC (which will have to remain in the TRC because there is absolutely no way Brussels airlines would allow me to take it!), a map of the TTC, drawings and pictures of things from Rwanda including the national parks and scenes from everyday life and an Akaseke (traditional) Rwandan basket. I was truly amazed by how creative they had been and how much trouble they had gone to to make things for me.   

There was also a karate display, a speech from the sector education officer and the principal presented me with an official certificate of service which even had a stamp on it, as they do love their stamps in this part of the world. Then it was time for my speech...and this is definitely a skill I have learned in Rwanda because when I looked back at the video of it (which my folks back home will definitely be subjected to) it was almost 15 minutes long! That is a long time to make an impromptu speech in front of nearly 500 people, and in the beginning I could only manage speeches of about 5 minutes so now I am truly Rwandan. 

So I said lots of things about how lucky I had been to be given the opportunity to come to Rwanda but the most important thing came into my head only as I stood there in the moment. Rwanda has helped me to find my heart, my mutima, again. It had been lost for a while in England amongst the debris of the endless assessment grids, reports and paperwork of teaching in the UK, the mismatched matchstick men I met on in an attempt to find love and the horrible microwave dinners I would force down my gullet because I would never give myself the time to cook. But I am lucky because the people of Rwanda have helped me to find it again, so I think a piece of my heart will always be here in this country. I know I will come back to Rwanda, because I can’t bear the thought of leaving unless I know I will return to see that piece of my heart farewell TTC Bicumbi, you have given me far more that I have given you.

All dressed up. From left to right, Andrew, the principal, me and Alex.

Me and the other TTC Bicumbi staff

Me with some of the students who made me gifts

I knew I would have to dance...

Some of the dancers with the manchester united football I gave as a gift. God only know where the Chelsea one went...

We had traditonal Rwandan melange in the staffroom after the ceremony

Me and the other women of the TTC. From left to right, Bernadette, Jackie, Agnes and Jolie.

Me and Mr Macumi, my Burundian papa at the TTC

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