Monday, October 15, 2012


Memory is weird. I've spent the last two days grading two long assignments for my calculus class. Somehow the repetitive grading is giving me Kigali flashbacks. I had a sudden vision this afternoon of the view from my apartment balcony.

Life is fine back home in Maine. It is getting cold and dark now, and will get colder and darker in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In a little less than four hour's time I will leave Kigali. Today was a like a miniature version of my seven months here: interesting, fun, tedious, meaningful, pointless, frustrating, satisfying. As always, the weather was just about perfect. I just got back from a final run through the neighborhood. I will soon shower, pack a few remaining items, call a cab, and head to the airport. But first I will sit a moment and enjoy the scene from my balcony one last time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Final Night

It is my last night in Kigali. The last week has been a bit of a blur. I have been quite busy finishing things up, and my head is filled with mixed thoughts. Rwanda is a complex place; it has been a difficult and intense and (mostly) rewarding seven months. I am sad to say goodbye to friends here and will miss quite a few things about Kigali, but I am very, very ready to be home.

The last few days it has been almost eerily quiet on campus. The last exams were Friday, and so there are almost no students around. The KIST science building is mostly dark at night. They have even turned off the streetlights outside the building. It is still easy to see, though, as the moon has been bright.

My exams are graded and I am well on my way to being packed. Tomorrow I will attende the presentations of the senior theses from 8:30 - noon. Then I will spend a few hours in the department taking care of lots of odds and ends. I expect I'll end up taking lots of photos with the graduating students and other faculty. I will then return to my apartment, finish packing, bid farewell to the guesthouse staff, and head to the airport. I expect it to be a busy and draining day, but I am looking forward to it.

I am, as usual, on the balcony. It is darker than usual despite the nearly full moon. A radio is playing somewhere and crickets chirp. I will miss the balcony. It is a peaceful place to work, to eat breakfast in the morning, to have a cup of coffee in the afternoon, and to just sit and think and try to make sense of it all.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Final Countdown

I returned this evening from 11 days in Tanzania on safari. It was an amazing trip. The animals and the scenery were stunning. It was the most vactioney vacation I've taken in a very long time, in that I was able to almost completely unplug and not worry about work. There was nothing immediate or large that I was thinking about, so it felt like a real break.

I am now back in Kigali, on my balcony as usual. I have less than two weeks left before I return. I have a lot to do, but it seems manageable. There are 72 finals to grade and some final formatting and very minor edits for the book. I also have lots of odds and ends to take care of. So my days will be full, but things seem under control.

I am looking forward to my last days in Kigali---visiting my favorite places and doing some of my favorite things. I am also looking forward to being home.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I succeeded in finishing all my grading by midday yesterday. Friday and Saturday I graded over 150 midterms. It went surprisingly quickly. My desire to be finished was a great motivator. Some caffeine and some excellent spicy tofu on Saturday night helped considerably.

Tomorrow Doreen and I leave for a 10-day trip to Tanzania. We will visit parks and will see elephants and giraffes and such. I am certain it will be fantastic. It is exciting to be going to game parks, exciting to see Doreen, and exciting to not have to worry (much) about work for 1.5 weeks.

Friday, June 8, 2012

All over but the grading

Classes for semester II have ended. I have given my last "midterms", or CATs as they are known here. I taught my last class on Wednesday. I gave a public lecture on Chaos today. The book is in my publisher's hands. I should be getting final proofs to review in a few weeks.

So all I have to do in the next few days is grade 166 midterms. It is a lot, but I think I can do it. Doreen arrives on Sunday. We leave on Tuesday for a ten-day trip to Tanzania. I then have 1.5 more weeks in Kigali.

I am on the balcony and am exhausted. It is similar to the feeling I get at the end of a term at COA. I know I need to get food. Today I have only eaten a danish, a cup of yogurt, and five crackers. I am probably too hungry to notice I am hungry. I can't quite decide where to go, nor can I gather the energy to start moving.

It is unusually humid. It actually feels sticky. The air is damp and still and it was hazy/smoggy today. There is music from the church and murmurings from the neighborhood. Soon I will go out into the calm night in search of food.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hard to Believe

Somehow it is June and there is only a week left in the term. It is hard to believe that in the next week I need to grade 200 midterms. And I just finished a batch of 36 midterms. Also this week I need to help my three research students finish up their theses. It is hard to believe that all this will happen, but I trust that it will. And once next week is over, I think I will have smooth sailing for a while.

It is also hard to believe that I have been away for six months now and that I return in just one month. I am looking forward very much to returning, although I think it will be a bit of a shock. Mostly a good shock, but a shock nevertheless.

I have been missing home, as usual. But the last week or so I've also been missing friends back in Maine more than I've felt of late. It will be good to reconnect and catch up. I look forward to sharing stories and thoughts, both to help me process and digest my experience here, but also to help me (re)adjust to life in Maine.

Today is graduation at College of the Atlantic. It is odd not to be there; I've been at every one since 1999. Next year I'll start a new streak.