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Mixing Cultures: A Job Interview in Rwanda

I sent my resume to someone before dinner. By bedtime I had an email from someone else who received it via email forward. I replied, and they shot back proposing an interview less than 24 hours later. Wow, things move fast in America. Here it takes at least two re-schedulings (my child is sick, it’s raining) before a meeting can happen. Skype interview at 6pm. In the morning, our car was an hour late so we didn’t leave Kigali until 10. We arrived at the village around 11:30 but the meeting didn’t get started until about 12 because someone was busy and then we had to go carry the benches to sit on. In the next meeting, it wasn’t until we were walking out the door that the women admitted they were way over budget because when they went to buy a megaphone they accidentally bought a microphone, which has lots of cords but no sound, so now they need to buy a speaker and an amplifier. We drive to another village, and the woman there is “coming, coming!” for 45 minutes, so that’s how at 5:40, 20 minutes before my interview, I found myself in the village of Byimana drinking milk (goat’s milk? something funky there) in someone’s living room. At 5:45 we’re walking out and she tells us that she’s cooking us eggs. No, thank you, I have an interview. Oh no, I’m so sorry! Here, just take the eggs (hard-boiled eggs are a common snack)— NO don’t crack them, they’re raw! Raw?! You’re giving us raw eggs? Why? Yes, I’m so sorry, should I cook them? NO DONT COOK THEM, I have to go, I’m sorry. Yes! Your interview, of course. Go, go. But wait! That’s my daughter running towards us with a bag of samosas for us to eat. Wow, what good timing! Let’s eat them together on the hood of your car, which is running, because you have to go. Ok, here, let’s all take two, but oh no wait, we don’t have a napkin to take the samosa from the bag (cultural thing, can’t take food with hands)… what to do what to do, dear, dear… Oh good you have a journal! Please rip some paper from your journal, here let me help… With five minutes to spare we pull out, holding our second samosas. I do the interview by cell phone in the car, and ask the driver to please turn down the radio. Wow.

Twenty minutes before my supposed-to-be-Skype interview, I found myself in someone's living room, two hours from Kigali, drinking milk and trying to deter a woman from giving me various foods. I ended up doing the interview on my cell phone in the car... I'm guessing our jobs next year will be different from this year. At the very least, we'll speak the same language as our co-workers. Also, we'll probably work at an office. Indoors.

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