As always the last day of the trip is bittersweet. Its heart wrenching to say goodbye to our beloved Nyamata girls and to experience the end of many blossoming friendships that were recently made. Several tears were shed at the final goodbye lunch at Green Corners, however some of the tears truly were tears of joy. Speaking for myself, I know that at every lunch I cry both with sadness and joy. Yet, mostly with joy because I see these incredible bonds and relationships that were made in just two weeks and I cry with an overwhelming amount of happiness because of the impact both the US students and Rwandan girls have on each other. The friendships the girls make with the US students not only gives love and hope to the girls but it gives the US students a chance to experience a cross cultural friendship and to see that no matter where one is in the world, we are all the same.
The lunch went very well as usual, we began with some fun tunes and a short dance party to start it off. We played Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, and some Beyonce. Just a few of the girl’s favorites. Seeing everyone dance together was another reminder of close bonds created, smiles, laughter and beauty of young people connecting across the world. We then enjoyed a delicious lunch consisting of Rwandans traditional foods, sweet potatoes, spaghetti, spinach, beef, and rice. After lunch we provide a chance for everyone to say their goodbyes and last comments to the group as whole. Everyone was eager to say something and almost everyone in the group ended up speaking. Several Nyamata girls stood up and said how incredible the past two weeks had been and how sad they are to see everyone to go. Many of the girls could not last more than two minutes speaking and ended up breaking out in tears and sitting down. A few US students spoke about the incredible past two weeks and how every one of the Nyamata girls had changed their life. Grace, Ellie, my mom and I concluded with the final comments. We thanked the restaurant (6 years of hosting our celebration), our beloved teacher Philipe for all his hard work, the adults, and all the students for coming together. Then my favorite part, handing out of the goodie bags. The night before the goodbye lunch all of the students gather donations and separate them into piles for each of the girls. Carolyn Ward is always so gracious to bring a large majority of the supplies, taking charge of creating the goodie bags. I am always in awe in the generosity and support Carolyn offers to the organization and specifically to the girls.
Everyone gave their last hugs and kisses and we headed off. There is always a more quiet bus ride back where students reflect on the trip and on the friendships they just made.
It was an amazing trip and I can confidently say that lives were changed, both for the Nyamata girls and the US students.
Until next year.