March 8th and 9th

Thursday, March 8, 2012, and Friday, March 9, 2012

By Ann Fields

Lanny and I met Theophile at 8:30 as he was taking the students while we traveled to Kigali for some “presidential” meetings.  Our driver Emmanuel could speak some English so it was enjoyable drive.  We saw many, many women in traditional dress walking along the road, which is pretty normal.  However, they looked fancier than usual.  About 30 minutes into the trip, we passed a big banner across the road stating, International Women’s Day.

When I questioned Emmanuel, he said that the whole country was celebrating International Women’s Day, along with the entire world.  About that time, an emergency vehicle came towards us with the lights flashing and siren roaring.  Emmanuel pulled over and 5 or 6 more cars came rushing past, including President Kagame and his entourage.  The President was going to be the keynote speaker for the International Women’s Day.

When we arrived in Kigali we stopped at the Chez Lando Hotel, the same place we spent upon arriving in Kigali.  After we hastily checked-in and dropped off our luggage, Emmanuel took us to the Rwandan Education Board to discuss the process of selecting five new Rwandan students who will start at William Penn University next fall (August 2012).  We learned that 86 students received a perfect 55 out of 55 on the national exam, making the eligible for President Scholarships.  Only 4 US colleges are accredited for taking Presidential Scholars.  William Penn has 5 students, and the other 3 colleges take a total of 37 students, for a total of 42 students.  Which means that only about half of the students with perfect scores will be selected for Presidential Scholars.

We talked about William Penn’s mission (I gave him my business card with the mission statement), our philosophy (giving students access who generally would not have access), our educational culture (small classes, the faculty know the students, individual attention, and attendance taking), and the demographics of Oskaloosa (small town, limited minorities, caring community members, and the Quaker Friends relationship with Penn).   The Director will communicate our needs to Oklahoma Christian who will interview the candidates and will select our students for us.

When we were getting ready to go, I asked the Director if he could call a taxi for us.  He said that he would be glad to give us a ride back to Chez Lando.   On the way back to the hotel, the Director said that on the International Women’s Day, all the men were supposed to do the household chores and take care of the children (feed them, take them to school, bathe them, etc.) while the women attended the International Women’s Conference.  Great idea!

After a brief rest, I met Esther, a Rwandan student who wants to come to Penn this fall.  Her father had visited William Penn last fall with the Rwandan delegation and he decided William Penn would be a good fit for her.  After I visited with her for an hour, I agreed.  She is interested in digital communication, has good English skills, was her high school student body president, is interested in politics, and will challenge our students and does well.

The third meeting of the day was with Michael Hughes and his wife Collette. Michael is a Brit who is now working for the Ministry of Education.  Collette was a refugee before the genocide and, after retiring as midwife in Great Britain, and they opted to come to Rwanda where she now takes care of the family farm and Michael works in Kigali.  Lanny and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, talked international politics, and made good friends.

Friday morning was meeting number four.  I got up early and took a cab to the Kigali Health Institute where I met with the Rector (or the president as we would identify her) and discussed possible partnership opportunities.  We had a good brainstorming session and came up with two solid strategies.  1) Dr. Brenda Duree can come this fall when Dr. Yogi Shah is doing his Fulbright Fellowship there.  Dr. Duree heads our nursing division and will meet with the Rector to discuss possible student exchanges.  2) She would like one of our faculty members to come to discuss research proposals and statistical social research.

Then back to the hotel to pick-up Lanny, gather our luggage, and head to the airport where we were the students coming from Kibungo.  They arrived around 10:00 (after stopping and doing some shopping in Cayunza) and ready to head to Tanzania.

At the airport, there was more shopping before leaving for Kilimanjaro.  We had one stop – Darussalam – beautiful blue was of the Indian Ocean.  When we arrived in Kilimanjaro, it was warm.  Our tour guide from Roy’s Safari was there with a bus to take us to our safari hotel.  We stopped at Ansura to divide into two smaller tour buses, exchange cash, and start on another 3 hour ride to the Farm House Hotel.

The Farm House Hotel was perfect – western style food, drinks, white table clothes, electricity, and hot water – the works!  They treated us to a late dinner and off to bed because the safari was to start with breakfast at 6:00 and buses leaving for the Ngoro Ngoro Crater at 6:30.  Full stomachs, hot showers, clean sheets, and more mosquitos netting ended Friday, March 9.