Reece Stevens

Biomedical Engineering Student at UT Austin

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In all my observations of culture and customs in Rwanda, there has always been a significant language barrier. My knowledge of Kinyarwanda, the local language that is spoken by everyone, is minimal at best, eliciting laughs from store owners and merchants that are most definitely directed at me and not with me. However, there is one aspect of culture that needs no explanation, and is an incredible view into the history and attitude of the people of Rwanda: food.


Ifunguro means “dinner” in Kinyarwanda, a meal that is usually eaten around 9:00-10:00 and consists of rice, potatoes, beans, and one small piece of meat. This meal rarely varies in its contents, and more often than not, I find myself wishing for a slightly more flavorful taste of Rwanda. However, a little more exploring and a little more monetary investment brought me to other, more interesting meals– ones that I think are...

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As I am learning quickly on this trip, I should never jump to conclusions about absolutes– my experience today with the Rwandan people was a powerful enough experience that I felt the need to write another post quickly on the heels of my last. Today, our group had a tour of the Millennium Village planned– however, this tour also happened to fall on the last Saturday of the month, which happens to be a nationally mandated community service day. Before I explain what happened, some background information might be in order:

The Rwandan genocide of 1994, a catastrophic event that affected virtually every family living in Rwanda today (I have yet to meet a family that did not lose a relative to this atrocity), has left a lasting mark on the country’s psyche and modern society. The genocide was fueled by hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis, the two major ethic groups of Rwanda, which lead...

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Welcome to Rwanda


I was struggling to decide what to write my first post about, as in the five days I have been travelling I have experienced an overwhelming amount of new information and culture. Of these experiences, however, I think the most notable and the most “Rwandan” was my trip to the Kucikiro market. Our class has spent the last four days learning Kinyarwanda, the local language of Rwanda, and our teacher, Francis, took us to the market to help develop our negotiating skills (note: negotiating in a foreign language is EXTREMELY difficult and highly entertaining for observers). The market is not too far from where we are staying as a group, a college called IPRC (Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center), and thus was a short walk from the safety of our classroom to the shocking real world of Rwandan market trading. As soon as you step through the gates of the open-air pavilion, a huge variety of...

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This blog is intended for me to be able to share some of my experiences from this summer with everyone back home, or even anyone who happens to stumble across this while browsing. In case you aren’t aware, I am going to be spending two months this summer in Kigali, Rwanda as a part of the Engineering World Health Summer Institute. I’m going to be repairing broken medical equipment in local hospitals and just in general try to be a helping hand anywhere a helping hand is needed. I am incredibly excited, and very nervous, and ready to see what God has in store for me this summer!

If you want to find out more about Engineering World Health, the Summer Institute, or just what this whole rigamarole is about, visit!

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