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Typing Masters & Their Keyboard Cake

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two of my favorite typists

In Kigali, I'm living in the Voices of Rwanda House. During the day our living room is transformed into an office where a team of typists transcribe and translate video testimonies of Rwandans. VOR is an NGO committed to recording oral history as a form of transitional justice and as an effort to preserve the history of individuals and in effect, a country. Eventually, the video database will be used to educate high school students in the U.S. and around the world about genocide.

When the executive director, Taylor Krauss was starting the organization he arrived in Kigali expecting he would have no problem enlisting a team of typists to transcribe the interviews he was taping. He was wrong, but he turned this deficit into an opportunity -- an opportunity for himself and for Rwandans. In collaboration with a technology school in Kigali called E-ICT, he started a 6-week touch typing course to create a body of potential transcribers.

Yesterday, at the house we held a graduation ceremony to celebrate the first class to graduate from the typing certificate program. All the students graduated with distinction and many of the students already have found jobs. Several students are currently employed by VOR.

Inspired both by the students and the Krauss's efforts, I'm producing a documentary short called "TypingMaster 10-Finger Touch Typing," about the typists -- many who are orphans and survivors of the 1994 genocide and each with a big dream about where typing will take them.

My contribution to the graduation ceremony itself was as the executive in charge of decorating and as the chef on the dessert committee. Here is a photo of the cupcakes I made and assembled to resemble a keyboard.

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The night ended with a game that is the Rwandan equivalent of Secret Santa, called cacahouette. Everybody draws a name of a person at the party and in two weeks (the night before I depart) we will all convene and give a gift to the person whose name was drawn. The intention of the game is to create an opportunity so that the relationship which started at the party continues on.

For more photos from the night continue reading...

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