Rwanda: Day 9

by Sarah Luna

January 19, 2012

Here we are at lunch after a particularly stressful morning.

While being driven through the streets of Kigali, I was struck today by how similar it felt to walking the Camino. It seems very different on the surface–different continent, different culture, different circumstances. The common thread, however, between the two is purpose.

Walking the Camino de Santiago had a very concrete goal. I had to get from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela in thirty days. Despite the vicissitudes of travel, that end remained constant with the Catedral as a physical, emotional, and spiritual beacon of light. I imagined walking up the steps and through the doors when I was freezing, soaking wet, and covered in mud. I pictured the massive structure–like so many cathedrals that we passed–when I was sweating and sunburnt and the straps of my pack cut into my shoulders. I thought of the cool, even stone floors every time I dressed my bleeding, swollen, blistered feet. No matter what the present pain may have been, I had the visual and the tactile and the aural imaginings to get me through.

I feel the same sense of purpose here. There is no physical landmark this time; I stay in the same city for the entire study. I am not as emotially invested in the outcomes of this study. However, there is an endpoint that must be reached before I can move on. I cannot leave this place until my work has concluded.

There have been many delays and many frustrations already. These make me grateful that I am only a graduate student and not a collaborator on this project. I could not make some of the decisions that needed to be made. I have excellent examples of graceful tenacity in my professors. They are willing to go through every inconvenience to make this study work. I’ve learned that so much can be possible if you truly want it to happen.