“I am Now Inviting You!”

I was at the Hotel LePrintemps, just down the street from the main entrance of the Kigali Institute of Education.I had arrived at KIE a few minutes after 10 and Celestin was nowhere to be seen.  Celestin is our colleague, who arranged our previous visit to KIE in August.  He had invited me to come to KIE today to open our discussions.  I wandered around for a few minutes, peeked into Reception and thought better of it, and finally headed down to the Rector’s office.  The Rector’s assistant told me, “They are all at a conference.  It is nearby, at the Hotel, just on the other side of the petrol station.  You can walk there.”

Well, why not, I was up for a conference.  I arrived at the Hotel just as a morning break was commencing.  Just like any academic conference at break time, people were crowding around tables of coffee, juice and snacks.  It was like a party!  The mood was upbeat, I turned and saw the Vice-Rector and went over to greet him.  At first, I am not sure if he remembered me, but after a moment he did, and it was nice to greet and be greeted by him.  He pointed out Celestin, and I walked over to greet him.  He said, “You are welcome, here have some coffee.”

I discovered that the conference was regarding Gender Centres in Africa.  When we were here in August, we met Dr. Shirley Randell, an Australian ex-pat who has been working with KIE on the establishment of the Gender Centre here.

I saw Shirley and walked over to greet her.  She remembered me and was pleased to see me, and I was pleased to see her as well.  She told me a bit about the conference and then asked, “Are you attending the conference?”

I told her that I had not been invited.  This is when she stated, “I am now inviting you.”  She proceeded to take me to the registration table, where I received my name badge and folder.  Off to the conference.  After the break, I walked into the meeting room and prepared to sit at the back table. I was escorted bya conference helper, who  seated me front and center, between a woman from Germany who was working in Goma, DRC (on the northside of Lake Kivu); and a woman who spoke French but did not tell me where she was from.

I was pleased to have been invited to the conference and Shirley gave next talk, reviewing the development of the Center for Gender, Culture and Development Studies at KIE.  It was an excellent presentation with a lot of great discussion afterwords.  As my colleague Linda and I learned during our August visit, it is customary in Rwanda for a host to summarize your talk and then to take five questions at a time before allowing response.  After this session, it was lunch time, and so I joined the Rector, Vice-Rector and Celestin from KIE, as well as Claire, another Australian now living in Kigali and a woman that I did not get a chance to meet.  The lunch conversation was interesting, and chiefly centered on Celestin speaking about his grandfather, the husband of five wives and father of about 40 children.

I left at 2:00 so that I could meet with Jacqueline, whom I shall write about in a subsequent post.  Day two of the conference is tomorrow.  I learned today that to have come from such a great distance and to be welcomed, on the spot to an academic conference I had not been invited to, nor registered for, was a real blessing.  I was made to feel at home, and I am sure that tomorrow will be a new day of learning for me.

Explore posts in the same categories: Africa, Education, Learning

One Comment on ““I am Now Inviting You!””

  1. carol brazo Says:

    Oh Scot,

    This is just such a gift to read this morning. How like God to see that hospitality is extended in ways you could not have anticipated. I am so refreshed just reading this.

    Enjoy my dear friend. You are blessing many of us with your stories.

    carol b.

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