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A simple hello, ‘Muraho’

Seven women walking together towards the viewer with buildings and palm trees in the background.

Week 1 Heading link

Dhriti Patel, BSN Student

The past week in Rwanda has been amazing! We have participated in many cultural events. We visited the Kigali genocide memorial, met the members of a reconciliation camp, participated in a traditional Rwandan cooking class, and took a mini lesson on Kinyarwanda. Despite learning many basic words in Kinyarwanda, I didn’t quite use them with members of the community until I encountered a wonderful interaction.

My group members and I were exploring the city of Kigali with our tour guide. As we were walking to the New Cactus restaurant for a lunch break, we encountered a woman walking on the opposite side of us. As usual, she was staring at us, and we were staring at her. Both of us had on our causal grins to show friendliness. I was used to this because most of my interactions with the community members went like this. However, this time our tour guide said “muraho” to the lady. That simple hello brightened her face up. Seeing her go from a casual grin to a joyful smile filled my heart with delight and contentment.

That experience made me realize that communication plays a huge role in connecting with people of other cultures. Showing the community members that you put effort into learning their culture puts them in a high spirit. It allows the community members to trust you and return the effort to integrate you into their culture.

Taking this into consideration, I have been using the Kinyarwanda language more often now. It has allowed me to stay in contact with many community members. Many of these local friends have invited our study abroad group to certain events, recommended restaurants, and taught us about their culture.

I have learned that communicating in the local language gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture. Although facial expressions and body language allow you to communicate, so much of the culture is transferred through language. Therefore, learning the language is an integral part of learning the culture.


Dhriti Patel is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Along with studying for a BSN, she works as a patient care technician (otherwise known as nursing assistant). Her goal is to work as an RN for a couple years and then work towards earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and becoming a nurse practitioner.

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