Sunday, September 20, 2015

Welcome ... And there's something about Kigali.

Hello Edinblog Readers

I welcome all new and returning full-time and ODL students to a new session. For me, officially, studies start today (Yaaay!) and I am beginning with a course that is a core area of interest for me - Zoonotic diseases. I look forward to learning in this course because of its direct relevance to my undergraduate study – Veterinary medicine. More importantly, it has great importance in the Global/Public Health sectors in many African countries and in my work as a Heath professional. Starting this new session, I’m more confident, (obviously) more experienced and with better more refined targets for my education. I hope you all are feeling the same way too.
Wish you all a fruitful learning experience at University of Edinburgh.

So, remember the Summer School I talked about in my last post.... Yes!

Welcome to my GHA Kigali experience! #KigaliRwanda #GHASummerSchool2015 #AmazingExperience

Scenes from Kigali, Rwanda; Photo credit - Erin Daldry

Now, I’m going to be hopefully-not-boring you with blow-by-blow details of my exciting experience in Kigali for the annual Global Health Academy Summer School 2015. To give a brief background story, the Summer School is an annual program organized by the Global Health Academy where ODL students, lecturers and other affiliated members of the Academy convene in select countries. Here, conglomerates of professionals and students with vested interests in Global Health and in line with the vision of the Academy at the University of Edinburgh, come together for learning, networking….. And lots of fun!

So after much expectation, travel preparations, documentation, vaccination, information and other –tions associated overseas travel, by August 28 early afternoon, I was finally on flight to Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia; my first stop-over. I arrived Addis-Ababa quite exhausted from the roughly 6-hour journey (Frankly, I could have as well been on my way to see the queen). Arriving the airport and really wishing the whole journey was over, I found my Nigerian ODL colleague, Yusuf who was also waiting for the next flight to Kigali. And at that point, I was just really glad to see a very familiar face and finally confident I was not lost somewhere in a very busy East African Airport.

As our plane approached Kigali International Airport at about 2am on Sunday morning, I was immediately captured by the beautiful man- and “nature-made” architecture and landscaping of the city, Kigali. I also couldn’t help noticing that the land was so beautifully green and had pretty hills that seemed to stand proud and graceful. At that point, it was love at first sight for the city and I was just glad to be there. Later that morning (at about 3am), I checked into the Hilltop Hotel where most of us (participants) were lodged for the duration of the program and it was immediately straight to dreamland till late next morning. A few of us also came in at around the same time from our various locations all around the world and much more would arrive later that Sunday. 

It was great meeting my fellow students IN REAL LIFE, for the very first time! I also got to meet with some of the lecturers and administrators of the Global Health Academy that Sunday afternoon as they came to assess the state of preparedness of the hotel management for the whole program. It was really great meeting everyone and even more pleasant interacting with them in days to come.

Interestingly, later that evening, I (and Yusuf) got a quick chance to explore the city. Now, that Sunday afternoon, we had the opportunity to interact with a beautiful Rwandan lady, Naomi (not real name), who was entertaining guests with her beautiful voice and her band at the swimming pool area. I am an ardent fan of good music and it was really refreshing to hear her belt out some great R ‘n’ B and local songs in English and Swahili. After our brief interaction with her, she invited us to a Karaoke night at a bar in the city. Instead of taking a taxi, Yusuf and I opted to take a commercial bikes and I did not regret one bit of that 20-something minute ride! Gosh, Kigali night scenery is beautiful! At some point, I practically removed my helmet so that I could feed my eyes generously on the scenery and just feel the cool wind whip across my face. At the Karaokee night/bar, I couldn’t resist singing a song, so I got in touch with my inner Adele, sang “Set fire to the rain”, and I got a standing ovation for my efforts! All in all, it was a great start to the summer school and I ended the night with high expectations for a beautiful time in Kigali, Rwanda.

There's more to come in the #GHAKigali series, till then, enjoy the start of the new session.