Rwanda Diary: Last Blog from Rwanda (and gorillas!)

by Hannah Frantz

So I was thinking the other day about the number of times I thought about buying a plane ticket home. I would say it probably happened once every 2 weeks or so. As I was thinking about each of those instances I realized how happy I am that I didn’t actually follow through. I’m down to only 5 days left in Rwanda until I board a plane home, and for the first time, I can’t actually believe I’m going back. It seems really surreal.

There have been a lot of really rough times on this trip. The memorials were really emotionally trying, but on the flip side they’re what brought our group together because we were able to help each other through it. The homestay was not an easy adjustment either, but it was probably one of the best learning experiences I’ve even had. Being stared at no matter where I went and knowing that everyone perceived me as a foreigner was really trying. But now I know what it’s like to be an outsider and how to cope with that.

I feel like I’ve changed a lot on this trip, no matter how generic that sounds. And I know I haven’t become a new person entirely because I’m still me at my core. But I feel like I’m me with some new bells and whistles. I think after this trip I will be more honest in my day to day life, especially with all of those around me. And most importantly I think I’m going to be honest with myself. Rwanda has helped me to understand my limits, but also recognize that I can push my limit- both physically and emotionally.

And I haven’t even mentioned the incredible people that I’ve met here. I consider every single person on this trip one of my best friends, and I’ve told them all 8,000 times that they are all pre-invited to my wedding (in approximately 15 years, of course). They have been the ones to push me and also to inspire me. It has been so incredible to hear everyone’s stories and watch them all grow. And I can’t even begin to think about what my life will be life without them because basically that just makes me cry a lot. I’m really afraid of going back to the states and not having this support system all the time. Who is going to ask me how I’m feeling on a scale of negative 3 to 11? But seriously, I’m so grateful for having gotten the opportunity to get to know some truly incredible people. And I’m so excited to see what our futures are like together. Even when I’m not just two bus rides and a moto away from all of them.

My brain is so scattered right now. I’m excited and terrified and sad an angry and elated and nervous and tired and just overwhelmed. But I think this is all normal even if it isn’t really fun. It’s time for me to go home, but I don’t really know ho to say good bye just yet.

But on a happy note, I’m freaking going to see GORILLAS on Monday!! I’m not anticipating blogging again (for my final blog) until I return to the U.S. so I won’t be able to report on gorillas until then. But on Sunday we’ll be traveling to Musanze in the north and then going to the Volcano National Park, and we will be doing a gorilla trek. Basically there are three separate trails, each of which are varied levels of difficulty. We’re hoping to do a more challenging one so we get more time to see gorillas. We will see. But this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I can’t even express how excited I am. Tarzan’s got nothing on me.

Categories: Education, Leisure/Travel, World

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