A beyond rewarding experience
Continues from front page For Eggleston, learning and bonding with the youth there was the most rewarding part of the experience, "The youth’s level of engagement - that was probably the coolest part."
Coming home harder than expected
Eggleston returned to Canadian soil recently, but not to Ottawa until this week. First, she had to undergo a reintegration program in a small community in Nova Scotia.
"The return culture shock was more severe," said Eggleston explaining that she had an easier time originally arriving in Rwanda. "It’s hard to become disconnected from the people and culture. You’ve built relationships that aren’t there anymore. It’s tough."
Over the weekend, Eggleston participated at a public forum at the Coady International Institute and conference on activism and social justice at St. Francis Xavier University.
There she was given tips and tools to deal with the culture shock without becoming completely removed from the links she’s made in Africa.
In addition to connecting youth, Eggleston is hoping to share her experience in order to dispel any persisting negative notions of Rwanda associated with the country’s turbulent past. This April will mark 18 years since the end of the genocide. Eggleston said it’s remarkable how the country now proclaims such national solidarity and unity. “Visible action is being taken to bring justice and build reconciliation among citizens, including returning refugees,” she said. "I think that’s the thing that surprised me the most, was the powerful sense of community."
Despite difficult moments visiting Genocide memorials, Eggleston said the progress they’ve made as a country is truly touching. "It’s very striking but very beautiful," she said. "What happened was awful but now there is an overall reconciliation."
For Eggleston, she said those moments are what are driving her similar experiences in the future.
"There were definitely periods of time where I missed home, but I could even go back for longer. Six months felt too short in the end. You make some serious connections and develop real relationships with people there. I would love to go back." poignant to pursue