Transcending Culture

Written by TWB Intern, Emily Sturtavant. 

For the past four months I have been traveling throughout East Africa with a study abroad program. My travels began in August; as I started my experience living abroad, I had a base knowledge of the area, limited understanding of the local languages and a yet, a hunger to learn about the lives and cultures of the region. Visiting both Kenya and Tanzania, I now have had the opportunity to intern with The Women's Bakery in Rwanda.

During this time I have begun to realize the importance and power of shared moments.

On my first day working with TWB, I had to opportunity to bake bread with TWB women. I was excited to spend time with TWB bakers and get a chance to bake, one of my favorite hobbies. Yet, with my inadequate knowledge (read: absolutely zero) of Kinyarwanda I couldn’t ask how to make something or what I could do to help.

Baking, however, is something that transcends culture and language. It’s something that needs only showing, no telling, to share the activity. I watched as the women carefully cut and weighed the dough before splitting the pieces in half. Then I helped to roll two pieces out into long snakes before twisting them together into the delicious honey twist I had eaten earlier this morning. Throughout the next couple of hours I helped mix, knead, twist and bake the bread that is the base of this business. 

I can say that I have learned a little Kinyarwanda since my first day here, but I still communicate with the women who work here mostly through smiles and high fives getting my point across just fine in the process. Baking transcends these barriers and I am grateful for this opportunity to learn this with TWB in Rwanda.