The reality of my job, working for the "Man," and life in Africa in general means that what is transmitted through normal communication avenues is not always what turns out to be reality.
(Isn't this life?)
Thus was my experience the day after returning from Ethiopia last week. I was exhausted from 5 full conference days, emotionally drained, and just wanted to cuddle with my cat and drink tea. But alas, the english diplomacy show must go on. I was scheduled to be the token American for a U.S. Embassy movie screening at a girls school about 1.5 hours outside Kigali. Our email communication about the event went like this...
Them: "Jessica, will you lead small discussion groups about the movie Selma to celebrate Black History Month?"
Me: "Sure." *plans small group discussion points based on non-violent leadership as portrayed by MLK Jr. in the movie Selma.*
fast forward to the actual event*
School Official: "Jessica, it is so great you are here to lead a school-wide celebration of International Woman's Day!"
Me: slightly confused...."Oh yes, I am eager to lead discussion groups on Black History Month."
School Official: "Discussion groups? Oh no...the whole school is attending, 270 students, and they look forward to talking about woman's issues with you."
Me: "Great, where's the mic? Let's do this."
And that is how I ended up leading a Q and A session about women's issues and America in general with 270 bright, capable, interesting girls at the Gashora School for Girls in Gashora, Rwanda. I was so impressed with the girls. The aim of the school is to give the girls an even playing field with international competition for scholarships in the US. The school is a boarding school, so the girls have a safe and comfortable place to live and are fed wholesome, nutritious food. These two factors give the girls the edge that they need to thrive. Their character and smarts are intrinsic, but it is the environment that so often holds girls back from reaching their true potential. At Gashora, the girls have their physical needs cared for, are respected, and are held to high standards that they are very capable of reaching. Over 90 Gashora graduates are studying on scholarship in the US today...and more and more will be joining them in the years to come. How fabulous. We must let girls learn.
I was so surprised when my plans turned out to not be what was expected of the school. But in the end, talking about girl power was such a crowd pleaser and motivator. I got another experience in "going with the flow" and was inspired by such fabulous women who have a clear goal and are going for it.
Go girls! Happy International Women's Day, or Black History Month. It's all good.
walk slow. xoxo.