Time for a moment of truth.
When an invitation came in the mail to attend the 240th Marine Ball at the Hotel Mille Collines (also known as it's movie monicker for it's controversial place in history - "Hotel Rwanda") one of the first things I selfishly thought was - I'm going to wash my hair and wear all of my makeup! All I thought about was the chance to be clean and pretty for once. But really, the event was so much more than a chance to bathe and wear contacts.
The Marine Ball is held across the world every year to celebrate the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. There is a formal ceremony including cutting a cake with a sword, watching a Marine Corps video, and reading a statement from Secretary of State John Kerry. We had an incredible dinner of chicken (chicken is not usually very meat-y in Rwanda) and lots and lots of wine thanks to our Embassy boss who threw a pack of drink tickets onto our table. (awesome boss credit!) After dinner came dancing, and our table of Fulbrights and Fellows took the opportunity to let loose after a few months of hard work in our host institutions.
It was like being in another land. I was eating well, drinking copious amounts of red wine, wearing a fabulous dress (with crocs sandals underneath hahaha), dancing with my friends to a DJ, and not concerned the least bit with the hardship of my daily routine. I kept telling myself to take it all in - to "fill up my tank" with this goodness of food and fun so that it would sustain me a few more months in Kibungo.
It worked. My tank is full. I had enough good times to last me awhile. It was patriotic, fun, and great to spend time with the awesome people who are part of these English Language Programs. We really lucked out in the colleague department this year. I am (usually - not while checking Facebook these days) really proud to be an American and to be working in some capacity for the betterment of the world under the American flag. I am thankful our government sponsors programs like mine with a focus on outreach and soft-diplomacy. I am also thankful to come from a country where we have Marine Balls. What a fun home culture to have!
Several times I had to take a moment and breathe it all in - somehow my life landed me in Rwanda working under the Embassy, at a Marine Ball in "Hotel Rwanda." How did I land here? I'm just random girl Jessica from suburban Florida who speaks Chinese - how did this happen? Just a testament to following the flow of life and keeping your heart open to new adventures/opportunities. (cheesy, yet true).
Have some pics and enjoy the Ball with me... and as always, thanks to our armed forces for serving so regular folk like me can celebrate their achievements and live in relative safety...
|Marines getting' down|
|Party in the USA (or Rwanda)|
|beautifully done table setting|
|Cutting of the cake|
|I may smell bad sometimes, but I've got great hair|
|Beauty and Brains from the US Embassy|
|I love my co-workers.|
|my grandmother's eel skin purse from South Korea|
walk slow. xoxo