Today at a work event I had a conversation that I can’t stop thinking about.
One thing that I love about my job (as a college admissions counselor) is the people and organizations that I’ve become aware of and by which I am inspired. One of those that I learned about today is Bridge2Rwanda.
A staff member from B2R attended today’s college fair to speak with college admissions counselors about their Bridge2Rwanda Scholars Program. I ended up sitting at his table for lunch, and while I started the lunch thinking if I could possibly blog about my not-so-great veggie sub, I quickly became more interested in our table’s conversation.
I often feel so ignorant about other parts of the world, but through our discussion and further research, my eyes have been opened to the hopefulness that exists in Rwanda. In light of Rwanda’s dark history it’s hard to believe, but also amazing to learn about.
(Images & text taken from B2R’s website)
Rwanda is positioned to succeed. Over the past ten years, Rwanda has transformed itself from one of the world’s most failed states to become an admired model of results-driven nation-building. Over the last two years, the World Bank’s “Doing Business Reports” ranked Rwanda as the fastest global business reformer and the most improved country in Africa. Today, Rwanda is one of the safest, cleanest, most progressive, least corrupt and fastest growing countries in Africa.
Rwanda’s leaders are well respected. Many of Rwanda’s government, church and business leaders, including President Paul Kagame, grew up as refugees, but returned to the country following the genocide to rebuild their country. They are well educated, responsible global citizens, committed to making Rwanda a model of reconciliation, democracy and free market enterprise. Rwanda’s parliament is the only one in the world where the majority of members are women. Some have referred to Rwanda as the “Israel of Africa.”
Rwanda is becoming the hope of Africa. In a continent where poverty, disease and violence have left millions in despair, Rwanda’s rebirth encourages others and demonstrates the power of servant leadership, forgiveness and the human spirit. While the road to prosperity is a long one, entrepreneurial investors are drawn to the country by the belief that today Rwanda offers their new ventures the greatest opportunity for success.
The B2R Scholars program builds on this hopeful outlook for Rwanda. Many bright, motivated high school students want to continue their education, pursue great things, and add to Rwanda’s promising future. Since there are limited college options in Rwanda, and since these students are often not prepared for the college application process in the United States, many of these students are not able to reach their full potential.
The staff member that I spoke with today helped to start the B2R Scholars program which provides classes, leadership training and support services during a gap year for qualified students to adequately prepare and apply for college abroad. This year they helped 15 students get into a variety of highly selective U.S. colleges. This year, 30 students are a part of the program, and they are hoping that B2R Scholars will grow from there.
The outlook for these students is positive. Their character, motivation, intelligence and desire to return to Rwanda is inspiring to me. In turn, Rwanda’s outlook is bright. The attitude and determination of their staff is encouraging to me as well. When I asked the staff member what he had originally hoped to study, he answered, “Well I was planning to pursue something related to public health.” Then he shrugged and matter-of-factly said, “But it’s all connected.”
I often have this feeling that so many seemingly unrelated aspects of life are connected. Health, education, social justice, food, community development, hospitality — it’s all linked together in often times messy but ultimately really beautiful ways.
I cooked dinner tonight in an effort to keep my thoughts and our dinner conversation centered around the inspiring work taking place in Rwanda. I did some quick internet research to learn about typical meals in Rwanda, and using the ingredients I had on hand (which meant that the meal was very loosely inspired by Rwandan cuisine) I created a delicious, meaningful meal.
Cornmeal Porridge (cooked with coconut milk, which was my own addition)
Almond Chilli Pepper Sauce
All of these simple ingredients combined to make a flavorful dinner.
Craig and I both really enjoyed this meal, and I have to believe that it was largely due to the conversation and inspiration that we shared.
Is there an organization that inspires you?