The first week here in Butare has been refreshing, exciting, and intriguing. Over our first week, we’ve met RVCP members, we’ve explored Butare and Kigali, and we’ve even cooked a few of our own meals. The aspect of Rwandan culture that has been most evident, for me at least, is the distinct harmony and cooperation among the Rwandan people. There exists an equilibrium of sorts, among the automobiles, pedestrians, moto-taxis, and natural landscape. People are less focused on themselves, and more focused on the general well-being of the greater population. It’s refreshing to notice an absence of unnecessary yelling, car horns, and tension that exists in many cities and larger towns in the US.
Aside from the general tranquility that exists in Butare, the RVCP members we’ve met thus far have been gracious and comforting hosts. Whenever an RVCP member is in an area anywhere near our house, we’re always greeted with a visit and a conversation. Having visited many restaurants in the area and the market in the city, we’re beginning to gain some insight into Rwandan culture, and have realized that courtesy and happiness aren’t the exception, but are distinctly the rule. It’s inspiring to see that a culture can be so relaxed and easygoing, while still maintaining a work ethic superior to many countries, including many developed nations.
It’s almost counterintuitive to someone from the US to think that happiness, kindness, and perseverance can exist together, in synch. The Rwandan people on the whole, however, have managed to meld these three aspects into a colorful and inspiring culture which deserves much recognition.