Take on the World

By: Ayla Schlosser

May 29, 2014

Workshops in the Girl Hub Rwanda offices are always vibrant and beautiful. The brightly colored walls and kitenge-covered chairs create a vivid canvass. The graduating class of Ni NyampingaAmbassadors arrived, representing every district in Rwanda and dressed in their best for a day of training in Kigali, and the room filled with bright patterns and colors.

The girls greeted each other and took their seats, and there was a buzz of energy in the room as we began our workshop. There were some nods of assent as I began to talk about the importance of stories – and then a wave of understanding as Solange translated into Kinyarwanda.

There was a bit of hesitancy at first, as girls explored personal values, important life decisions, and begin to share their stories with each other. Sometimes it can feel more difficult to open up to your peers than it would be to open up to a room full of strangers – but when you can get over the barrier of doing so, ultimately it is incredibly rewarding, and can build community. There was laughter and even a some tears as participants shared stories of challenges they have overcome, and where their passions lie.

Clementine talked about being the only girl in a family of 10 brothers, and that no one in her family ever believed that she could achieve anything. But she got herself through secondary school, and began working on a new type of agriculture project in Rwanda. Through her innovative project, the people in her district recognized her intelligence and hard work, and nominated her to be an ambassador for Ni Nyampinga. Now she travels to Kigali for trainings and meetings, is well known and respected, and her brothers and family members call her to ask her for advice.

We broke for lunch and played a game before starting again, in order to shake off the afternoon drowsiness that can accompany a big lunch of rice, potatoes, isombe, meat, and chapatti, and dove back into our work.

The afternoon session was an intensive look at how to put stories to use. Once each participant has an idea of how to present herself well, we talked about when and how this can be used to gain a professional advantage. Storytelling is crucial when it comes to painting a competent and impressive picture of oneself through job application materials, through the interview process, and in the workplace.

As we closed out our session, participants asked questions about particular phrasing for CV’s and cover letters, how best to do research before an interview, and how to use what they had learned to help them succeed in their professional lives. They went into their graduation ceremony directly following armed with the knowledge to communicate their past experiences and ready to take on the world.

Megan Madeira