Taylor Calloway (Class of 2018) was one of twenty-one students who participated in the new Rx One Health Course based in Tanzania and Rwanda during June 2017. This is Taylor’s personal narrative aiming to illustrate her daily experiences, a deeper understanding of the One Health approach in a real-world setting, and the big question of “why is this course important.”
The day of presentations has come. Previously I failed to mention, that this presentation was not only to our own course leaders, but also to other important stakeholders and supporters of the Kinigi Community that have great influential power over what is to come from the buffer zone.
To say the least, nerves were slightly hyphened. But we all did an amazing job as presenters and while we were answering questions. After, we were able to speak with the stakeholders over lunch. It was enlightening to hear the fact that most people were genuinely impressed with our ideas and there is a very likely future for the groundwork plan we created. It made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside to think, I have made a small impact. In the future, I will definitely be looking into help this project succeed and become a sustainable positive influence on the community members, conservation of wildlife, and the country of Rwanda as a whole.
After this lunch we met with Dr. Olivier Nsengimana, the Project Coordinator for the Rwanda Crane and Wetland Conservation of the International Crane Foundation (more wildlife veterinary inspiration here). He was able to create this conservation project in Rwanda after working for Gorilla Doctors. His words inspired us to believe in our futures and ourselves. Even our non-veterinary colleagues were interested in wildlife conservation after his presentation.
Finally we were left with Dr. Gilardi speaking to us about leadership styles. It was a good ending lecture to remind us what type of leaders we want to be and which are the most instrumental as project frontrunners.
This was all followed by a surprise birthday song and cake for the June birthdays including June, Eric and myself. The Rx One Health team of 2017 has really become family in so many ways. I have become extremely close to them and know have life long friends… yes I got a little teary-eyed thinking about tomorrow being our final day…
Other then my moment of Good Bye anticipation sadness, I had a very good day!
Kinyarwanda Word of the Day: Miryango, family.
Final Day!! Bitter sweet in so many ways. After talking with Courtney, Eric and Marie into the wee hours of the night, Courtney and I fell asleep to the television on. True roommate style.
Warning: I am about to talk about the Rwanda Genocide Museum. There is a part of this entry that I speak about Genocide death. If this part might upset you, please skip over the next two paragraphs.
We woke up in the morning half excited and half anxious about visiting the Rwandan Genocide Museum in Kigali. I highly recommend going if you are ever in Rwanda. Not only did this event influence the country of Rwanda, but also, all of my Rwandan colleagues were affected by this tragedy. I have a new indescribable respect for my friends. Without getting into to many details, a specific section of the museum really spoke to me. The children’s room. As you walk in, you are met with the faces of smiling children, ages 5 months to 10 years, plastered on large canvases with a description of their best friend’s names, favorite food, what they want to do when they grow up, favorite song, and personality type. Under these descriptors are their last words and how they were murdered.
There is an emotion that hits you while you walk through the room, or maybe a mix of many that everyone else around you understands. The beauty that Rwanda has created from such a disaster is shown in the graces of its people. I am in awe by the genuine people I have met in Rwanda and look up to them in how they forgive each other and themselves. Thank you Rwanda for allowing us to learn about your past history and enjoy in your present with people I will forever be friends with. To my Rwandan colleagues, you all have motivated me to be a better person. Thank you…
After this, we all were quiet driving back to the hotel. I was impressed by how willing my Rwandan friends were to talk with me and answer any questions we all had.
Once lunch was finished, we ran out to a market to buy an assortment of gifts. I did end up buying a purse for myself. Once we walked out to our previously designated meeting place, I realized that not only did Courtney buy the same style purse as I did, but so did Marie… I guess great minds do think alike!
We had a wrap up session at the hotel and I did let my eyes water for the second time today. A feeling of sadness and gratefulness fell on me once our mentors presented us with certificates and hugged us all individually. I can proudly say that I learned something new and insightful from each and everyone that I met on this course. I understand that there was no other way I would have grow so much in such a short time without this group that I consider friends and family.
At dinner couple of friends also surprised me with birthday gifts and cards that, again, made my eyes tear up a bit. And another surprise cake for us from our Rwandan friends, which we shared with everyone we saw at the hotel.
I did have to leave that night. Most people stayed up to say goodbye and Marie, Courtney and Eric dropped me off at the airport. That is when I let myself cry.
Ugh, too many emotions for a birthday!
To end on a happy note.
I truly appreciate the 2017 Rx One Health Course. Everyone that made this learning experience possible, those who helped allow me to participate in this course, and to my newfound global family … you have all made a huge impact in my life, which has shaped and inspired me. I have found what I was looking for at the beginning of this course, a purpose for becoming a veterinarian, a reason to work in integrative groups of people to aid in solutions. I am excited to continue to work with each of you in the future.
Ok, ok… sappy stuff is over. I you have any questions about the Rx One Health Course, please feel free to contact me directly.
Thank you for reading and coming along with me on this trip.