Tonight I was reminiscing over some Rwanda pictures, interspursed with learning gastrointestinal details. Despite the fact that I am distraught by “Africa” generalizations and stereotypes, looking back at these pictures helps me re-realize that Rwanda is in a massive state of change and development. This is very central Kigali. I have thought often about returning to Rwanda because of my emotional upheaval associated with living there. I had never been at such a high baseline stress level for such a long period. Moreover, I am disturbed by how little I know about Rwanda; how little my time there prepared me to talk about it, or even think about it. I don’t even know where to begin on how lost I am on that place and well actually, the whole continent (at least the five or so nations I’ve so briefly and superficially visited).

I had the unfortunate scenario last night of being asked by someone what I did before med school. When I answered and it became a comparison and congratulatory exercise, it served as a simple and clear reminder to not talk so quickly; just because you’ve “done” something doesn’t mean you know anything about it. There is a constant tug of war inside of me: to speak about what I’ve seen (which is so little as compared to what is happening!!), or just stay quiet and be a learner. More and more, as could be expected, I am discovering my own ignorance on the complexity, sadness and beauty of our global state. I just want to be quiet.

The unfortunate assumption that spending time in a foreign, resource-poor community entitles you the weight to speak about it without pretense or on its behalf without permission is the fundamental flaw of the international development sector.

~ by kcanderson on December 12, 2007.

3 Responses to “Rwanda”

  1. If you don’t have all the answers, you could at least let us all know what the questions are.

    If not you, then who?

  2. I don’t know who. I’m not sure the questions are answerable with a universal truth. All the questions are subjective and filled with opinion, background, perspective and outlook.

    I think the questions all relate back to who we are, personally and collectively, and what our goals and values are.

  3. (Grr. They need an “edit function”)

    Yes, but that’s what every political and social problem boils down to. The fact that we have values doesn’t mean we can’t advocate for the solutions we believe in.

    So, according to you – and only according to you – what should the goal(s) of the international development sector be?

    (assuming, of course that you believe that there should even be an international development sector, and I would find it hard to believe that you don’t).

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