Kinyarwanda Nikimwe Algebra

12 Aug

As I haltingly work noun infixes into my repertoire of Kinyarwanda I’m reminded of an epiphany I had in calculus senior year of high school. While using algebra to solve a problem I realized that once upon a time just learning algebra was a challenge. Five years later, I considered algebra to be my best mathematical friend. Even now, when presented with a math problem I have no idea about I try to algebra-ize a solution (a lot of good that did me on the GRE). It’s just as easy for me to remember back to eighth grade and the lost feeling prevalent at the end of the day in algebra class. I also remember spending hours each night trying to make sense of my homework only to feel frustratingly stupid when I marked more answers wrong than right correcting the homework. Kinyarwanda is like algebra for me. Right now I’m back in eighth grade struggling and feeling frustrated with my inability to understand when people speak to me and what I’m learning from my tutor. Last week I reflected on the fact that I’ve been at site for almost a month and feel like I’ve stagnated in my Kinyarwanda progress. The people around me seem to think otherwise and repeatedly comment on my expansive vocabulary and how quick progress. Their reinforcement was just what I needed to bust out of the self-doubt rut I was in. I’ve started to carry my flashcards with me for when work is slow (which is a lot). Every week I intend to add a handful of new verbs to the ever growing pile. I’m hopeful that in the next six months Kinya will change from the focus of my work to a tool used to get to know the community and people around me more in depth. I heard once in a history class, I think, that if you lined the people in China up (maybe like 1,000 people abreast?) and had them march into the ocean that they would keep going for some ridiculous amount of time like a year before they ran out of people. The take home point being that China’s population was large perhaps with a rather healthy growth rate. Perhaps this was a predecessor to today’s ever popular infographic? Not that I think the people of China should be marched into the ocean or have particularly significant opinions on the size or growth rate of their population. Rather, this is how I envision words in Kinya as they make the move from my tenuous short-term memory to the more reliable long-term. Only rather than march 1,000 abreast they sort of straggle one by one. Progress is progress right? Also, I miss the English language. I miss playing with words, creatively conjugating and throwing them in sentences they may or may not belong in and waiting to see how friends react. I seem to remember having the most discussions over word choice with my friend Ethan. I suppose it’s taken me this long to miss English because up until a month ago, I spent most of my days in the company of fellow Anglophones.


One Response to “Kinyarwanda Nikimwe Algebra”

  1. Jill teVelde August 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    My dear Maharo … you have an amazing way with words and writing. Honestly, I thought i was a good writer once upon a time but you are so very smart an aware of what you are doing. I just stumble upon something and get lucky when it makes sense. You will have mastered Kinyarwanda in no time just wait and see. Stop ‘trying’ so hard and just let it happen…famous last words from the mom who keeps pushing. I love you so very much. You are such an inspiration to me. You are such a shining example of what someone can do with their life when the are determined. Stay strong Maharo Heidi Love you! Llama

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