I’ve been home for about 18 days now. It’s surreal. I went to Africa for 3 months and now I’m home. I went to college for 5 years and now I’m home. We do things and then we come home. It’s surreal.
We don’t always have a place we feel we can call home. Sometimes home is family, friends, or a feeling. Sometimes home is a person, sometimes it’s just an abstract idea. Whatever the case may be, Rwanda felt like home to me.
It was new and exciting, but I fit into the culture almost seamlessly. I’ve struggled with anxiety the past few years, but being in a culture that prioritizes relationships over busyness made a huge difference. People there are so kind and inviting; They ask questions and genuinely want to hear your answer. I only had one anxiety attack the whole time I was there! Being late isn’t seen as a big deal either; you could be on your way to a meeting that begins at 3pm and stop to chat with a friend along the way, making you 30 minutes late, and when you got there no one would bat an eye.
There are things I value in American culture, like time management and organization and schedules (and Starbucks), but I’ve found that those things tend to be about control. Finding a balance between that sense of having control and the letting go has been a very sweet and challenging journey for me.
Through all my contemplating and reflecting I always come back to the fact that there is a fine line when it comes to comparing cultures. There are aspects I could applaud and critique in both American and Rwandan culture, but one is not better or worse than the other, just different. I look at the world through my western lens, with my individual views and beliefs, and you look at the world through your own experiences and beliefs. These things impact the way you relate to the world and how it relates to you. Through it all, keeping an open heart and a curious spirit has opened doors and experiences I never would have engaged with otherwise. I am incredibly grateful.
I’m in Canada with family for Christmas, but I’ll be home again in 3 days. Then all bets are off–will I head back to Rwanda? Visit friends in Australia? Travel around Europe? Who knows! But the endless open road stretching out ahead is a new kind of exciting. Adventure has become its own kind of home. And I think I like it there.