ThinkImpact gave me the resources to create positive change in my host community. Through immersion, collaboration, and coaching from my advisor, I lived a high-impact summer of social change.
The first portion of the program is dedicated to immersion. By living with a host family and participating in their daily activities, I felt welcomed and integrated into the local culture. I cooked, cultivated, fetched water, went to church, washed clothes, and fed the cow, among other activities.
I loved living with my host family, but be prepared to live in rustic conditions (no running water, latrines, etc.). You'll be surprised how easy this is to get used to! There was little variety in our food options, I generally liked what we were served. Our meals consisted of plantains, beans, rice, and some greens and fruit. We also drank milk tea every morning. It is very easy to be a vegetarian in the communities, if that's your thing!
I felt very safe in my community. My host family and team members were always looking out for my safety. However, we were advised not to go out at night.
ThinkImpact's in-country team exceeded my expectations. The country coordinator and advisor were attentive to our needs and went above and beyond to make our experience meaningful and impactful.
Starting a business in rural Rwanda is definitely a challenging experience. Trying to explain the idea of a business plan, budgeting, and other basics was quite difficult. Working with the interpreters was also difficult at times. Additionally, we had to consistently try to overcome the community's stereotypes of "Westerners in Africa" (especially with regard to money). ThinkImpact's staff was very helpful in addressing all of my concerns and working with me to come of with creative solutions to these issues.
I definitely recommend this program to anyone looking for a high-impact summer of social change, entrepreneurship, and asset-based community development.