“how was rwanda?”



With a couple weeks of America under my belt, I’ve had a lot of chances to try and explain my time in Rwanda. But y’all, it’s really hard.

Because really, it wasn’t a 2-week vacation. It wasn’t a month-long mission trip. It was a two-year, full-immersion, building-a-life sort of thing. And so, while I have enjoyed the attempts I have made to describe the people, the culture, the mountains, and my job, it’s been hard to feel like I am “getting it right.” No words do it justice.

It’s a weird thing, because I just spent the last 2+ years of my life representing my home, my country, and my family. I explained something about America every single day. I didn’t stop being American. Oh goodness gracious no. In fact, often I was showing other people the kinds of traits Americans carry – both good and bad. Now, I’m finally finished explaining myself abroad and I find myself back home – where things are more than familiar – trying to represent and explain another life. All over again. It’s exhausting to feel caught in the middle; to feel like I don’t quite fit into anything. I’m in the middle somewhere. And I’m afraid I’ll never be able to accurately bridge the gap between two cultures I know and love.

Coming home isn’t that shocking. You never forget the place you come from.


I remember my home, my family, and my dog. Even if he barks at me occasionally (give me a few weeks, Giorgio).

But, I’m not exactly the same person as the last time I was here. And so fitting in perfectly isn’t “snapping together” as my dear friend Rachel so aptly put it. I am trying to make my worlds fit. And it’s going to take awhile. Maybe it won’t work smoothly 100% of the way. But that’s the life I have chosen, isn’t it?

Rachel also told me this:

It’s better that you went off and did something like that and then have to deal with what you are going through now.

Basically, as the classic mantra goes, it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

Yeah, changes and transitions in life are hard. Practically all of my closest friends are experiencing their own kinds of transitions, challenges and difficulties, and so you know? It’s completely unavoidable. And it’s certainly true; it’s better to love deeply and even when you are forced to move forward, you can know that you were a part of something, even if for a short while.

How was Rwanda?

Well, like I said, it’s hard to describe. So, in lieu of words, I have put together some of my favorite videos from the past year. The links are below and I think you will enjoy. They show bits and pieces of my life in Rwanda and perhaps will paint a better picture of my family there. If nothing else, I think they will bring a smile to your face.

How was Rwanda? Well, take a look:

*right click each video and click ‘open in a new window’ so you can come back and open another more easily)*

ruramira girls football


jambo beach: divine & yazina

glow club

goodbye speech

elephant sighting

last night in the village: divine dancing


the journey home to my village


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Heather Newell Oglesby

Hi! I'm Heather. I am a writer and counselor in-training. I share stories so we can keep the magic of being human alive. I spend a great deal of time going on long walks with my wife, rollerblading, learning, and traveling to find new adventures. By day, I work as an Education and Employment Specialist for Jefferson Center for Mental Health, working with adolescents who have experienced their first episode of psychosis. A Colorado native, I love dark-roasted coffee, sunshine, and succulents. Enthusiasm, passion, and possibility: that's me at my best.

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