I was able to secure a month long internship in Rwanda as a medical elective during the month of April. This month was really special to me not only in developing professionally by exploring the psychiatric topics in depth and practicing my psychiatric interviewing skills, but also due to the timing of April being the national commemoration month. I feel GEI was able to excellently accomodate all my objectives within the limited time I had with the program. I learned about a different culture, while working in the field of psychiatry. The local GEI team also helped me coordinate weekend trips to nearby cities (Nyungwe Forest, Gisenyi- a beautiful town on Lake Kivu), which allowed me to explore other parts of Rwanda.
I truly enjoyed all the time I spent with everyone, from the hospital professionals to my host family. On one of my very first weekends in Rwanda, my host cousins accompanied me to Amohoro stadium to attend the national commemoration event and even translated word for word what the speaker and witnesses were saying. My experience there could not have been more powerful. I highly recommend going if you're there during the event. GEI did a wonderful job with my homestay placement and I strongly encourage future interns to stay with a local Rwandese family.
I will be a psychiatry resident in a couple of months and this experience has only made me more excited and enthusiastic about the direction of the field.
-Most people speak Kinyarwanda, just like with any culture, they really appreciate your efforts in learning their language! (French is also commonly spoken)
-Travel the local way-especially visiting other cities. I've met many friendly Rwandans who went out of their way to help me and sometimes taking the scenic route is the best way to explore!
-Try the small fried fish (Isambaza) in Gisenyi, a local favorite and one of my favorites!