rwanda & uganda:  cultural immersion in east african life

In Partnership with Impact Route

Rwanda, population 11.2 million, is a sovereign state in central and east Africa and one of the smallest countries and most densely populated on the African mainland.   It is aptly nicknamed ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’ as mountains in the west and savanna to the east dominate the geography, with numerous lakes throughout the country. Lake KIVU is the largest lake in the country, and is the namesake of KIVU Gap Year!

Students live in home stays with local Rwandan families in the nation’s capital, Kigali. They observe the progress and challenges of a rapidly developing African nation by participating in local business and education best practices.  Internships are catered to individual student interests.  Students work three days a week and accumulate up to 250 hours of volunteer internship.

Weekly discussion groups teach students how Rwanda has grown into a nation of hope and progress despite a grim recent history of genocide in 1994.  Through gatherings twice a week, students are equipped with on-going cultural training and assessment as they adjust to Rwandan life.  Students will become very familiar with the common stages of culture shock and be able to identify their progression into cultural adjustment throughout their stay.  They will grow extensively in their Cultural Competence (CQ) through coaching sessions on identifying the spectrums of cultural orientation unique to Rwandan life.

A unique feature includes the Peer-to-Peer Program.  Each student is paired with a Rwandan similar in age as they meet weekly to build relationship and cultural understanding. Thus, students are able to connect deeper to the culture by seeing Rwanda through the eyes of their peer.  This program includes a two-week venture into southern Uganda where students interact with Congolese refugees and a church community in the town of Mbarara, Uganda.  

Weekly Discussion Topics:

Introduction to Kinyarwandan

Cross-cultural sensitivity at home and the workplace

8 Areas of Cultural Competency and Culture Shock

Rwandans, Music, and Cows

Rwanda, reconciliation, and forgiveness

Home grown economic solutions

Gender Equity in Rwandan life and politics

The role of NGO’s in the development of the economy


Every trip is unique in its own way.  However, your itinerary will include most of the following activities: 

Genocide Memorial Site, overnight trip to Lake Kivu, trip to a tea factory, visiting Musanze near the five volcanoes on the northern border, exploring Nyungwe National Forest (a mountain jungle), going on safari at Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda, and a safari in Queen Elisabeth National Park (Uganda).


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