Life in ASYV

Summer 2013, Rwanda

Time to say goodbye

It has been a while since my last post on Tumblr. We’ve spent some quite busy days, meeting the staff, collecting feedback and doing the report. Our final presentation was on Wednesday, with professor Michel from CMUR coming to visit. He provided very valuable feedback and thoughts on local IT development and its impact on our long-term solutions based on his 5 year experience in Rwanda.
With the power and water off for long hours today, I spent most of the day talking with several kids that we have been closely working or communicating with. Kids in ASYV are just amazing. They have gone through hard times. They have to put everything on their own young shoulders. They are strong, passionate, and hopeful. I wish every best luck for them. And I believe the future will get better and better.
It’s always hard to say goodbye. All I want to say is thanks, for the good and bad experiences, for having these friends in my life.

Local restaurant with excellent ambience and night view. Food is not the best thing about it, though. The last dinner my project partner and I had together in Kigali.
Kigali house - after spending the last several days doing report here,  this place now feels like home.

Working weekend

I have been working on the configuration and installation of the open source education management system since I came back to the village Saturday afternoon. For me, this is also a process of learning. I had no idea of JSP, MySql , TomCat and how a web-based Java system works in a whole picture before I found this tool; however, I had to google the tutorials and tried to make it work before further understanding the codes, which seems really complicated.

Currently I get stuck by a very basic database problem. That’s the drawback  of working with codes and machines; you know it’s just a small bug but the whole system can’t work before you figure it out. Anyway I am still trying hard and seeking help from my friends.

Ten weeks seems long, but as we get deeper into our work, we still feel the time is very limited for implementation, especially when most of the work should be done before the semester ends, so we can get some feedback from the staff to revise and improve our project.

I am getting used to the simple life in ASYV now. I enjoy the small conversations every time I go to the dining hall or meet the kids on the way. But I still spend most of the time working in front of my laptop, which makes me feel a real need for more fresh air and sports.

It’s Monday again. This will be a long week for both the kids and us. Sometimes I see the students come to our guesthouse to study at night. This reminds me of my high school years. Hope they all do well in the exam week!

Met with the director of kLab and talked about some possibilities in project collaboration and teaching for the kids. Rwanda is a country in fast development, with people open minded enough to seek all kinds of cooperation and mutual support.
Back to work in the morning staff bus.Yesterday we visited the two memorial churches, Nyamata and Ntarama. The journey was like adventure; we got off the bus in the middle of nowhere and nobody speakes English. Walking along the road in the harsh sun, we finally found a small center and got two bicycles to take us to town with the help of a local teacher. The two churches were very graphic. Things were left there as the genocide happened. With the holes in the wall, you can imagine how people tried to murder their compatriots hidden inside using grenades. The tombstone of the Italian lady in charge of Nyamata church lies in the grass. She protected a lot of refugees by providing food and shelter. Human beings can be devil as well as angel.
This would be a busy week for us. Interviews were mostly done and system design has to be started. Hackathon was well received, and we are trying to build connections for the kids with the entrepreneurs in Klab. 
In recent days I’ve been learning and reflecting on myself. For things I could have done better in my life and work, I will definitely do better next time.
Went bowling. I did it so badly that I don’t even want to mention it again. But still, good memory, with the breeze in an open bowling court:-)

The busiest week since we came to ASYV has ended with a wonderful village time show. We invited Anne, JC and Eric to present the medals to the winning teams. These kids are amazing in all of the events. ASYV is truly a place of hope and passion.
I am inspired a lot by the kids here. They sing, dance and study hard. They stay up till 3 for the hackathon. They grasp every opportunity to express themselves and learn new things. They heal each other with brotherhood and sisterhood.
I am also happy for one of the IT interns we work with, who just got the offer from his dream university in Kigali. He still works hard, applying for some universities abroad and scholarship opportunities.
Time flies. Only one month to go for our projects. However, one thing I’m not sure that is good or bad: I am getting used to the food, cold shower, Rwandan accent, slow pace and breathtaking starry night sky.

It has been a very busy week for ASYV because of Anne’s visit to the village. We had a quick interview with the HR director and talked to the accountant today.
Debate about corruption. Senior 4 VS Senior 5.