January 4, 2018
New Year's Eve at Agahozo-Shalom was as unique as it was wonderful. It was so special to celebrate the changing of the calendar with the new Enrichment Year students at the Village. Preparations for the event began almost as soon as the students arrived.
The new students were told that they would have the opportunity to perform a Village Time-like talent show, and some students got to work right away writing poetry, preparing songs, and organizing themselves into dance troupes. The modeling practice was a serious affair, and one could tell that the new students were eager to showcase their talents.
The New Year's celebration began after a special dinner prepared by the kitchen staff. Students set up chairs on the balcony to create a performance space, speakers were plugged in, and a stage was built. The whole afternoon had been rainy and wet, and a warm mist had rolled up into Village, adding a magical feel to the whole event.
To kick off the event, Parisien, the Village Program Coordinator, gave a short speech to welcome everyone to the Agahozo-Shalom New Year's Eve celebration. Then the rotating student emcees started their duties, which they seemed to enjoy.
The audience, made up of staff, family mothers, big brothers, big sisters, and cousins, was treated to a beautiful song that led right into an inspiring, original poem. A group of students performed an original sketch, which left everyone laughing. Even though the students had only been at ASYV for two days, they planned and performed an impressive amount together.
They created two different modeling performances, with the first set showcasing traditional garb such as blue silk, spears carried by the boys, and beautiful long flowing dresses worn by the girls. The modern dance performance got everyone moving in their seats. Following the modern dance was a traditional dance performance that was well choreographed and moved to the beat of a student drummer.
The second set of student modeling included modern clothing like tight skinny jeans on the boys and beautiful shirts on confident young women who walked and posed for the adoring audience. Even the cousins got into the act, as they wore some of their own Rwandan clothing, including a set of matching dresses on the female cousins, and fun shirts and bow ties on the male cousins. Vincent, our Village Director, also did some modeling and everyone enjoyed seeing him pose and take part in the performance.
After the talented students showed off their skills, it was time for a student to lead everyone in prayer. Then, as midnight was just about to arrive and 2017 was going to turn into 2018, a cake was brought out and representatives of the community came up to together cut the cake just as the year ended. Everyone celebrated and danced and then sat down to listen to President Paul Kagame give a New Year's benediction over the radio. When he was finished, all the students got up and started dancing to the same music to which people all across Rwanda were also dancing. After the dancing, Vincent gave his own blessing to the community for the New Year. Everyone was happy to be together for the event. The evening finished with tea, cake, homemade potato chips, and roasted peanuts. When everyone had enough snacks, it was time for bed.
New Year’s at Agahozo-Shalom was a great success and could not have been possible without the hard work by students and the staff. 2018 is already looking like it will be a fantastic year.
Submitted by Noah Wolf-Prusan, Village Fellow 2018