Global Studies student Danielle McGrogan is currently studying abroad in Kigali, Rwanda through the School for International Training (SIT). Read more about her experiences living and studying abroad below:
"I am currently studying abroad in Kigali, Rwanda through the School for International Training (SIT). The focus of my study abroad program is to examine the 1994 genocide and the country’s efforts to foster peace, unity, and reconciliation. Through site visits to government organizations and NGOs, I have had the unique opportunity to learn from individuals working in the different disciplines (mental health, media, law, women’s rights, etc.) of reconciliation and transitional justice.
"After spending a month and a half in Rwanda, we went to Uganda for two weeks to learn about the LRA conflict and effective practices to rehabilitate and reintegrate ex-child soldiers back into society. We also had the chance to hear local perceptions on justice and peace in Northern Uganda through discussions with former internally displaced persons (IDPs), former LRA members, and NGOs, including Invisible Children Uganda. One of the many academic highlights thus far has been learning about the effectiveness of home grown solutions such as the Gacaca Courts in Rwanda and Mato Oput in Uganda.
"Apart from thought-provoking site visits and discussions, I also take Kinyarwanda language classes and live with a Rwandan family. My host family has given me insight into local life through sharing meals, improving my language skills, and taking me to events, including weddings and commemoration ceremonies. While Rwandans have many traditions, my favorite is Umuganda. On the last Saturday of each month, communities come together to do a variety of public works. Umuganda can be translated as ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’.
"For the last month of my study abroad program in Rwanda, I am doing an independent research project on the repatriation and reintegration experiences of returning Rwandan refugees from neighboring countries. I’m excited to have a month to explore Rwanda on my own while gaining a deeper understanding of a topic I’m interested in. My entire experience in Rwanda has been awe-inspiring and has played an instrumental role in shaping my future aspirations.
"Fun Facts: Rwanda is also known as the Land of a Thousand hills because most of the county is covered by rolling, lush green hills. Rwanda has highest percentage of women in parliament worldwide and was the first country in the world to legislate an outright ban on plastic bags."