Sep 10

 
Marion Warnica, 2008

Dear, dear country

I hardly know you. But many things I see I love. I see an unhurried pace; crowds of people walking slowly home in fading sun. I see deep connections between friends – an arm draped across shoulders, holding hands, sending greetings to a strange family in Canada.

I see an undeniable spirit! Jokes told when tears could fall; eyes that crackle with fun in a face lined by the loss of four children and a husband; a businesswoman determined to forget the past and follow her own big dreams…So many people looking forward, making the best of things; and laughing.

I see a welcoming community. Huge smiles and an astonished – you speak Kinyarwanda? In response to my slow efforts; stopping to greet friends on the street and really find out – how are you doing?

I see other things too. Poverty. A young child without shoes yelling and crying in the street at night with no one to help him. Hungry stomachs, holes in clothes. So many needs. But I also see efforts to keep making things better. And I do genuinely hope they succeed.

On a drive home this past weekend from the Volcanoes national park, I saw green hills. Stretching endlessly beyond my line of sight. A reggae song was playing on the radio with lyrics syrupy sweet: “Wherever you are in your life, remember me: I will remember you.” I realized there were many hills and many things that I didn’t have the chance to see or learn during my two months in Rwanda. But there are many things that I did come to know. And those few but precious hills, customs, people that are now familiar and dear to me, I will never forget.

That’s when I turned to my friend who was driving the car. “Nda kunda Rwanda.”

“Sorry?” he answered, playing with the radio’s volume knob.

“I love Rwanda.”
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(With Antoinette and Alice, the girls who gave me my Kinyarwanda name)


Sep 8

Marion Warnica, 2008

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Translators: Alex Ndahiro and Rwigamba Serge

Who are you?
My name is Dusenge Egidia and I work in Kimihurura with a Cooperative called Caplaki which deals in selling arts and crafts. I started working here in 2004. I am also a Christian and I go to church at the Zion Temple.

I am an artist. There are some things I hand craft and others I get from other artists to sell at my stall.

What’s your typical day like?
I wake up in the morning and do some chores in the house and come here at 8, and when I finish work I either go visit my friends or go to the cyber cafe to check my email on days when I don’t go to church.

What crafts do you make here?
We make things following our culture and we craft these baskets called uduseke in Kinyarwanda and we also carve statues out of different Rwandese trees. We also get inspiration from different cultures in other countries, mostly Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi.

Where did you learn to do this?
I didn’t actually go for training about how to do this. This talent basically came to me because of seeing different art from different countries as I used to travel a lot.

How did you start in this field?
Because I was interested in our culture so I wanted to look for a place where they do such things regarding our culture and I thought I would be very happy doing this here and the other thing is that they are so many artist here at Caplaki.

Basically you come with your items here and you put them together with the others and after you sell enough of your items and get a capital out of it you eventually go out there and start your own business and the people in this cooperative become your wholesalers. You see am still young and the thing is that it does interest people because of my age and that makes me become interested in my work.

There are times when the customers are many and sometimes not so many, approximately 30 customers in a day and sometimes none at all.

When did you start doing this work?
This is the only job I’ve ever done. I will only say the year I started but not my age, I started doing this in 1998.

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What do you like most about being an artist here?
You see before I started this I had a lot going on my mind but after doing this my mind become so peaceful. Actually because of the genocide that happened here is what makes me do art to try and forget the past and move forward and have peace of the mind. I am an orphan.

How does your art help you?
What can I say…It’s how a person feels about this. There may be a time when you have so many thoughts in you for example when you think about music or maybe when you want to forget or think about something you may try and sing to make it okay. So when you think about this song or music it really changes your thoughts and helps free your mind. That’s how art makes my thoughts about what happened go away.

Tell me about growing up.
About my life in general is that I was born in a family of eight and we used to stay in what is called now Kibungo district but before it was called Rwamagana and because of what happened in Rwanda I found myself here in Kigali after the war. I came here to Kigali in 1996.

Now I have a brother and a sister who live in Rwanda. My sister, who is 42, is like my mother because I think she does the things my mother would do if she was alive.

How have you overcome challenges you’ve faced in your life?

I see nothing important I did to overcome this but just patience and accepted the reality of events. Basically another reason is that situations like mine didn’t just happen to me, but to so many people. I knew I wasn’t alone. And I have friends who I talk to and share ideas with. My thoughts too help me overcome these challenges.

What’s your favourite thing to do?
What I like mostly is praying and doing my work. Mostly what makes me forget or feel ok is by praying because I am a Christian. When I’m in church I feel like am in another world.

What do you dream about?
There is nothing I dream about really. I just take what God gives me. But if you want to know about a vision, what I plan for the future is to work and move forward with my life. I also want to help orphans and widows because I am also like them. My vision is to open up an art school and it will help for example the street kids and orphans. It would be really nice because I will be showing the others who don’t have support or care that I care for them.

What will you do to achieve your dream?
I haven’t done anything big so far but I think I have done something most people haven’t achieved in life. And now I am planning to save money and start something big outside Kigali maybe in the villages.

What is the best thing about living in Rwanda?
The best thing about living in Rwanda is our culture and also the landscapes of our country is very beautiful. Rwandese are also friendly and the culture is very nice.

What’s the next step for you?
The next step is that I’m going to work hard to be somebody in the future and also have a home — to get married and have children.

About my work is that I hope to open up a school and help fill the need and about my general life is getting married and hopefully my family will help me establish and continue this school.

Do you like your life?
Yes. Yes!

Why?

Because the way my life is now it’s good…There is nothing else.


Sep 7

 
Marion Warnica, 2008

(All names have been changed to protect the identity of the subject.)

Translators: Alex Ndahiro and Rwigamba Serge

I first met John in the cool air of a Monday morning, the newborn sun mellowed by the distant drone of few cars passing on the pavement. He approached me as I swung my legs off the motorcycle taxi, headed to work. The small bag of ruby red raspberries he held out for me to inspect was a shock – something so familiar in a place so unfamiliar.

It got my attention, and I looked up to speak. But I was struck dumb for a second by the look on his face. The pit of my stomach reacted to the naked urgency in his eyes and the sadness deeply etched in the lines of his face as if I had seen a gaping wound. I didn’t need the raspberries, but I stopped to talk to him for awhile instead. He told me he preferred to speak Kinyarwanda, but that he knows some French as well.

I asked him what I could.

Where do you get the raspberries? (farmers who sell them to me in the countryside). Are you here every day? (almost, but it’s complicated). After a few minutes, we were friendly. And he had agreed to let me interview him the following week.

He invited me and Serge, my translator, to his home, which is where I learned more about the circumstances that may be contributing to the worry in his eyes.

“I was born in 1962 and I’m 46 years old and my wife was born in 1963. She is 45 years old.
I was born in Kigali in a place called Kacyiru and I have nine children. One of them is already married.”

His wife Danielle tells us she is the one who knows the children’s ages. ‘’The eldest got married when she was still young, and she is 20 years of age. The youngest is 5 and he’s a boy..”

I ask him what he likes best about living in Kigali.

“Nothing has helped me in Kigali,” he answers. “Now there is nothing good for me here. It’s because before I used to have things to do here but because the government has banned us from doing it, I have no source of income right now. I am now just staying at home doing nothing.”

He tells me about how he used to sell goods in the market when it opened in the 1980’s. He sold roasted nuts and cigarettes, then vegetables.

“But when they demolished the market in Nyarugenge. I started selling fruits out on the streets so that my family could get something to eat. But the government stopped us from selling on the streets and they told us to start cooperatives and they would give us financial support.”

John says that he hasn’t been able to get a cooperative going. So he does what he must to feed his family - now it is selling fruit and vegetables illegally on the street. He says he spends much of the day running; trying to stay ahead of police.

“The way my business is going now is that we buy the goods from people who came from the hills and for example we get a kilo at 600 frw and we get a profit of 200 frw, so you see when you buy 5 kilos you get a profit of 1000 frw and that 1000 frw is what I use to feed my children.

“The profit was made on a daily basis but not really daily because there are times when I didn’t make any profits and other times I did make. In general in a day you would make a profit of 1000frw.” 1000 frw is about $2 CAD.

” The profit I was getting was not really helping me and my family but there was really nothing I could do. It became worse when the government started throwing us out of the street but before it was moving well.”

I ask him about the happiest time in his life. He talks about growing up on a farm in Kigali – the youngest of six children.

“I felt protected and loved. I had the support of so many people.”

He goes on to say that he became a farmer himself with his own piece of land in the area that he worked and brought up a family. John says it was a happier time. Not easy, but happy. He had land, a wife and four children. But things changed. Drastically.

The government came and bought his land. They wanted to build a road where his farm stood.

Then the war came. And John lost his first wife and their four children.

The lines in his face seem to grow heavier in this dark room. Trickles of sunlight filtering through the one small window and open door are the only illumination. When night comes, John will light the kerosene lamp sitting on the family’s one table. His neighborhood doesn’t have electricity.

He tells me his second wife lost her husband and all but two of her four children. Their new family, he says, and the children they have together is a chance to rebuild his life.

And what do you dream about? I ask.

“I dream about being able to make enough money to feed my family,” he says. Throughout the interview, the youngest children have flitted in and out of the house. Staring and smiling shyly with curiosity. Their clothes are dirty. Two of the little boys’ shirts are ripped at the sleeve seam. I wonder where they have to go for clean water in this concrete, closely populated suburb.
His wife, Danielle, isn’t well. She has malaria and stomach parasites. I understand anew why he says there is nothing good for him in Kigali.

Now the oldest boys and the second oldest girl have arrived. They sit in the doorway, their backs to the charcoal fire pit in the corner. Above them on the wall hang many large posters. About 5 feature David Beckham playing soccer; the other 2 are drawings of Jesus and Mary.

As I try to say hello and ask the children a few questions in Kinyarwanda, they giggle and exchange looks. John tries to shush them and Danielle joins in, though the smile on her face says she’s amused too.

I wonder about the worst of times and the human capacity to live through it.


Sep 7

 
Marion Warnica, 2008

Have you ever tried to follow a dance you didn’t know? It happened to me at the end of my first week in Rwanda. After I answered yes to what I thought was a typical request for a dance, my partner grabbed both my hands and spun me: right, left and backwards for the duration of three songs. It was only by hanging on and doggedly following his lead that I was able to keep from falling.

In this place where everything from dancing to morning greetings to food is so different, I’ve spent a lot of my time following others people’s leads. Trying not to fall.

But there is a situation where being adept at following other people’s leads is definitely not an asset: bargaining. I fell and scraped my knees many times trying to negotiate the steps to this dance.

The first time I tried to bargain a price for a motorcycle taxi in Kinyarwanda myself, a couple of work friends stayed to watch. “Mwiriwe, amakuru? Ni meza, nawe?” Good evening, how are you, I’m good and you? The formalities were over with. “Nda shaka La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, ku Kimihurura. Angahe?” I want La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, in Kimihurura. How much? The driver offered his price “Magana tatu”– a little crinkle by his eye betraying that although he was serious about the negotiation, he was enjoying speaking with me in Kinyarwanda.

At this point, I knew only the word for 500 francs – maganatanu, which is how much money I knew the ride home should cost. The word the driver had just offered sounded similar, but with more syllables. More syllables must mean it’s more money, I thought. Time for a counter offer. “Oya! Maganatanu!” No! Five hundred!

The air behind me exploded with big, round belly laughs. My friends had their hands on their sides and were gasping for breath. “You just countered his offer of 300 francs with 500!”

Maybe it’s the manners system that’s been grilled into me all my life, maybe it’s my own particular way of relating to people; but when it comes to social situations, I was used to taking the path of least resistance. Keeping an eye on where a person will step next and adjusting my reactions to their tempo.

Something happened recently that told me maybe this is changing.

A moto clunked up to me in the early morning sun before work. We exchanged the usual pleasantries in Kinyarwanda, then I asked him to name a price. “700,” he said. It was 200 more than I usually pay.

I shook my head and offered five hundred instead. But he wanted none of it. He kicked the ignition and started to pull away. For a split second, I could feel panic and the urge to give in to his price rise in me. But as he moved further away, looking at my face for a reply, a switch flicked on. I was sure my price was right. I was sure there was nothing to lose by asking for it. So I turned my back and walked away. I was attempting “The Walk,” the ace in a bargainer’s arsenal. I could feel a smile spread across my face.

The moto hum moved farther away and switched off. I continued to step my way through the layers of red dust on the hill. After a minute, I heard his engine roar back to life, and it grew louder. “Tudenday!” Let’s go! He said as he pulled up beside me.

Later that night, when someone asked me to dance, I spun him first. Just to show him I know the steps.


Sep 6

 
Marion Warnica, 2008

When reading a travel safety brochure that I found in the orientation package organizers gave us for the trip, there was a reminder to avoid showing obvious signs of wealth or privilege — like jewellery and fancy cameras or clothing.

I didn’t realize at the time this list should have also included the colour of my skin.

A week or two after working closely together, a colleague and I were trying to figure out the logistics of getting me a press pass for the Pan African Dance Festival. I had missed the press registration day because of an interview, so now we weren’t sure I would be able to have one made in time for the big opening show.

“You probably don’t even need one,” my friend said. “Just wait and see, they’ll wave you right through without a pass because of your face.” My discomfort with the comment must have flushed the very face he was talking about, because another colleague rushed to jump in – “you mean because of how beautiful she is, right!”

But that’s not what he meant. And I was surprised to find he was right later that afternoon. I went to the stadium to try and get a press pass and the guard at the gate didn’t even ask me who I was or what I was doing there.

I just walked right through.

I had other similar experiences that week. Waiting for the press bus to take us from the stadium to the university where the opening ceremonies were to be held, I drank too much water and was in desperate need of a washroom. Time was limited, necessity was great, and there were too many locked doors between me and my goal. So I jumped through a window to take a shortcut across the empty stadium (you just have to cut across there, one of the organizers had told me on my first attempt to get to flushing freedom).

I knew I was allowed to walk there because the organizer had told me to go that way. But what about the guard who passed me and greeted my strange entrance and sheepish grin with nothing but an interested stare? A Ugandan friend of mine who was also looking for washrooms puffed a challenge as he climbed through the window after me. “Did you know – that guard is racist. If a black girl had done what you did just now, she would have been arrested.”

I wondered.

Then the press bus arrived at the opening ceremonies. We lined up separately, women and men, to go through the heavily guarded security check point at the front gate. I was wearing a press pass at this point, and was allowed through pretty quickly. My other colleagues in line? Not so lucky. There was some dispute and delay that I couldn’t quite understand. Time was ticking and I had made an appointment to interview a dance troupe before the show started. “I’ll meet you inside,” I told my friends.

A second check point loomed ahead. The guard I approached told me to go to the left and follow the road around. This route led in the opposite direction of the performance grounds, and the sense of entitlement I felt with my press pass dangling around my neck made me hang back a minute. I watched the guard direct another group of people to the left, away from the stadium. Stubborn as I am, and confused because a colleague had told me he was inside already (little did I know, he was inside in line, waiting with hundreds of other people for admittance to the ampitheatre) I asked the guard again. “Why are you directing people that way when the theatre is this way?” He met my question with a little nod and gestured for me to follow. “Okay, just walk down this path.”

I then proceeded to walk — past 15 guards who were blocking the way for others – down the hill to the amphitheatre entrance. Marion Warnica, an insignificant journalism student working at a local radio station, was treated in those few moments as if she was a VIP. I passed without a challenge. Without a double checking of ID. Without an eyelash batted.

It wasn’t until I took a seat and waited two hours until my other colleagues were admitted (the waiting crowd, frustrated by the fact that organizers were only letting people in one by one, knocked the gate down and poured into the theatre) that I started to fully realize what had happened.

And the vice grip knot that broiled my stomach was similar to the feeling I get when I refuse to give money to a begging child on the street the morning after I spend $10 CND on dinner at one of the most fancy restaurants in Kigali; when my friends and I haggle the cost of a taxi ride down a few hundred francs (two or three dollars) outside our house which is about 10 times the size of my apartment in Ottawa; when I sit on the back of a motorcycle taxi every morning, fresh from a hot shower, and zoom past clusters of people stooping to scrape water out of roadside streams.

It was the same hot flush and tug in my throat that I felt last weekend, when I tried to explain why I was so upset to a taxi driver who was taking double the price he’d originally promised by refusing to give me change. I was so angry that the few Kinyarwanda words I know fled my lips. I could only sputter in English.

“I’m here because of a scholarship. And hard work. And saving! Just because I’m white, doesn’t mean I’m rich!”

The driver only snorted and said something in Kinyarwanda to an interested onlooker. My words stopped dead in the air.

And they echoed hollowly in my ears as I turned and walked into the trendy restaurant to join my mainly white group of friends inside.

And they shattered as the bill folder passed around the table at the end of meal, quickly filling with sheet upon sheet of 5000 Rwandese franc notes.


Sep 5

Marion Warnica, 2008

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As the blazing sun rises higher in the sky, thirteen-year-old Naomie Bisengimana keeps the same steady pace. She chooses her steps carefully, head tilted slightly downwards, to navigate the fissures and gutters that crack the surface of the sunburnt clay. She’s wearing a long skirt and white sandals; though she will later tell me she prefers to wear jeans when she’s relaxing at home. “Est-ce que tu aimes les mini-jupes?” Do you like mini-skirts? she asks when we pass a group of girls dressed in revealing clothes. “They’re comfortable when it’s hot,” I answer. “I think I own just one. Do you like them?” Her face crinkles up at the question. “No. People don’t think well of a girl who dresses like that here. I wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression.”

Our formal interview, with a fluent French translator, finished earlier that morning when Naomie mentioned it was her last day of school. Trying to take advantage of the little time we had, I asked to accompany her on the way. “Pas de problem” was her answer, one she would offer many times throughout the day that we ended up spending together — walking and talking (using the simple words and grammar that I remember from high school French classes) about her life.

Naomie is the daughter of Honorata, the cook at the Rwanda Initiative house in Kigali. She’s the youngest of three children and the only girl. With her mother at work most of the day, Naomie says it’s her responsibility to prepare the food for her family. Her favourite thing to make? “Coffee,” she says. “It’s what I like to have for breakfast in the mornings. Porridge is just for babies.” And what do you like to bring to school for your lunch? I ask. “I only eat dinner,” she answers. “But I drink lots of water during the day.” Naomie gets up at 6:00 am every morning for a shower before her 30-minute bus ride to school - classes start at 8:30 and finish at 4:30 - but sometimes finding a bus is a problem. On those days, she walks. “I like to walk though,” she says.

With her quiet confidence and mature insights, it’s easy to think that Naomie is older than her thirteen years. She’s had to take on a lot of responsibility at a young age. Her father, Alfonse, died four years ago of heart problems, when Naomie was nine years old. Tears shine in her dark brown eyes as she remembers.“I loved my father so so much,” she said. “Now there is no one to play with me anymore, no one to sing with me anymore.” She said her favourite thing to do with her father when he was alive was to play a card game called Amaturufu. They would often sing together too.

Naomie says she is too shy to sing for other people these days, but she’s kept up a love for music. She’s learning to play guitar and has written many songs over the last year. The friend who teaches her is actually a well-known musician in Rwanda, named Rafiki. He’s famous for creating his own unique style, called “Choga” – which Naomie described as being similar to Cronk (the popular American hip hop style). She smiles wide when she explains how she met him. “My brothers have lots and lots of friends over at the house. Very many. Rafiki came over to see these other friends, and because I like him a lot, I asked ‘It’s you who sings?’ and he said yes and that’s how it started.” Her words are punctuated by an excited clap of her hands, a habit she has when she’s telling a good story. “I told him I wanted to learn how to play like him and he said it’s not hard. That he would teach me if I came over to his house.”

Now she goes to Rafiki’s house twice a week for lessons. It’s an ambitious schedule. But after a year of practice, she’s created a lot. “I write about young people and reality, what’s happening,” she says. Like “Faite Attention,” the song she submitted to be published on this blog. A moving entreaty to other young women to be strong and take care of themselves, “Faite Attention” is posted in its original Kinyarwanda version, a French translation Anomie also wrote, and an English translation written using Naomie’s French version. Naomie loves listening to music too. She says she has over 100 songs on her iPod, and that sitting in her room listening to her favourite artists like Justin Timberlake, Shakira, Rafiki, Fat Jo and Mario is her second favourite thing, after dancing. “When I dance, my whole being dances. It’s like a drug. Sometimes, there are so many things in my head. But when I hear music, I dance, and that’s it.”

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But music is not the only passion in Naomie’s life. Her biggest dream is to become a doctor. She’s well suited for the profession, considering her favourite subjects in school are physics, chemistry, biology and math. “These subjects aren’t hard for me, because I like them. And I want to do them. I’m determined to do them.” She is already saving some money for university although she said that medical school in Rwanda isn’t very expensive. What she had to say about her progress in these subjects probably says a lot about whether or not her dream will become reality. “I’m really good at them. I really know my math.”

There was no report card waiting for Naomie on that last day of school though. She said she couldn’t write her exams this semester because of illness. “I had bad headaches,” she says. “But I took medicine and I’m better now. It was nothing too serious.” Her marks are good enough though, she explains, that the school will let her make up the tests she missed when the students return after this three week vacation.

With no marks to pick up, and most of her friends too shy to talk with the strange journalist around, Naomie offers to take me to another school to meet some of her other friends. Our walk to the neighbouring district takes hours.

“Is this what it’s like in Canada?” she asks. I look around at Naomie’s neighbourhood and wonder if it could pass for a typical Canadian one. I think it would require a lot of imagination. Imagine the street in your neighbourhood isn’t paved. Few if any cars pass, raising clouds of red dust. Imagine that only a few people in your neighbourhood owned a laundry machine. Picture what it would be like if only a few people on your street owned a TV or computer or books to keep them busy during the long evenings, and even fewer people had jobs. Shrink the houses to a quarter of their size, built with whatever’s available, packed close together, and rip up the shrubs, trees, and grass. Suppose the people in your neighbourhood had to walk a long way to get drinking water; imagine a limping seven-year old carrying two large, full water jugs up a steep hill. Dissolve the sidewalks and level the street lamps. That’s when Naomie’s neighbourhood would look more similar to yours.

The conversation moves once more to hobbies. Naomie says she likes to travel, and she does sports too. Her favourite sport is swimming. “I love to swim in lakes out in the country,” she says. It’s one of many moments throughout the day when I wish my tongue wasn’t so fettered by my inadequate French. I want to ask her more – do you love the slippery weightlessness of cool fresh water against your skin? Do you feel connected to your country’s landscape, as I do, when I watch tall pines slide past through the soft focus of a watery prism? Do you look up at the sky with your ears below the water and float in silence? Part of the land. Part of the country. Instead, all I can do is agree – “Oui, c’est tres bon de nager dans un lac.” Yes it’s very nice to swim in a lake.

The afternoon is waning. Noon’s hot dry blaze has softened and is blurring the edges of the hills sloping in the distance. I ask Naomie about her future. What does she think it will look like? “I hope that I will be a doctor, and have a family. I would not like to have lots of children – maybe two, because if you have lots of children here it can be a problem. It’s better in this country to have 3 or less.”

And what does she like best about living in Rwanda? “There is a lot of respect for girls and women. It’s better here for women here than in other countries,” she answers. A beat of silence passes while she chooses her next words. “And there’s no gangsters, no danger – it’s safe here. Because there is peace. I love it in Rwanda.”

(Special thanks to Morgan Faulkner who helped with some translation, and Susan Krashinsky, who acted as translator during the sit-down interview)


Sep 4

 
Marion Warnica, 2008

“You are welcome.”

This greeting, spoken in English, washed over me warmly many times during a recent visit to an artisans’ market in Kigali. It’s a phrase many Canadians use countless times a day – an almost automatic response to “thank you.” We say it so often - contracted, shortened - that perhaps the full meaning of the phrase is lost.

Maybe that’s why these words struck me so squarely this time. They were offered as an invitation to come in, look around, maybe learn something. In a country so far from my home, people have welcomed me in many other ways too. Margherita, a little girl who lives down the street,learned my name and held my hand to her face; our house guard picked flowers from the garden for our dining room table after a newly–arrived member of the household admired them; a stranger at the petrol station waived the fee for a fill-up after realizing this moto was headed to the hospital; at my first big football match an enthusiastic fan gave me his prized umbrella hat (striped with the colours of his favourite team), expecting nothing in return.

It’s an amazing feeling, to be so welcomed. But I’m also aware that no matter how many warm greetings I get or how many new friends I make, I will remain an outsider on some level. The few phrases I’ve learned in Kinyarwanda still elicit laughter (people will laugh when you speak it, a friend warned me at the start – not because it’s funny, but because they don’t expect a foreigner to know any), and my knowledge of daily life here beyond my own narrow sphere of experience is superficial at most.

So in addition to following my own small story in this place, I will use these pages to publish a collection of profiles about people who live here. Each entry will highlight the interests, history, and views of a different person. Young or old, professional or student - I hope to talk to people from all walks of life and share the stories of their lives in this country.

And you are welcome – to come in, look around, maybe learn something.