I’m honored to say that I’ve been selected as one of six journalists participating in the International Women’s Media Foundation’s African Great Lakes Reporting Initiative. The program aims to help both local and international journalists improve coverage of central and eastern Africa, especially as it pertains to women and to rural and economic development issues. I’m part of a group of western journalists, all women, who will be reporting from Rwanda.

The trip actually begins in Uganda, where we’ll get security training and orientation for a few days, and then we head to Kigali, Rwanda, which will serve as our base for a week. Rwanda is known as The Land of a Thousand Hills.

I’m a writer, but it’s hard for me to put into words how excited I am about this trip. It’s best expressed in punctuation, perhaps: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This will be my very first trip to any part of Africa, though I’ve traveled extensively in Europe. I just needed the right opportunity, and the IWMF has given it to me. And Rwanda has fascinated me ever since I did an independent study project about news coverage of the 1994 genocide in college. There are so many stories to tell, and I’m hoping I can do them justice.

I leave Tuesday – the day after tomorrow. (!!) OMG, man. Oh-Emm-Gee. I’ve got my yellow fever and typhoid vaccinations, a bottle of Malarone anti-malarial medication and I’m almost ready to roll.

As I started preparing for this trip, I realized just how much my perception of sub-Saharan Africa is based on stereotypes. Should I pack like I was going on an ordinary international business trip? Or do I need to pack like I’m going on safari? Do I need a solar charger for my laptop? My current strategy is a combination of both. I’ve got my rehydration salts, DEET bug spray and hiking boots nestled next to a pair of black pumps and a shirtdress I can wear while interviewing officials. I left out the solar charger – turns out the ones capable of charging a laptop are pretty expensive, and I’m told that the electricity at our hotel is pretty reliable.

Speaking of packing, I have a lot more to do of it, so I better wrap this up. But stay tuned for as many posts and photos as I can upload, WiFi and fortune willing!


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