About the Author: James McKnight serves at U.S. Embassy Kigali in Rwanda.
The U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda has earned an ever-growing reputation for hosting great Independence Day celebrations. Not surprisingly, this year proved to be no different. For embassy employees, the Fourth of July weekend signifies hours of extra work to prepare for all the festivities, but it is always inspiring for us to see 300 to 400 Americans come from all over Rwanda to celebrate U.S. Independence Day.
This year's event began with deliciously grilled burgers and hot dogs, and included all the condiments you would find in the United States (a luxury for many). The embassy's cooks and volunteers deserved a big thanks for working overtime to ensure that everyone that came to the event was well fed and had a good time. After finishing lunch, everyone was welcome to enjoy all the festivities set up by the many dedicated volunteers. The embassy hosted everything from a volleyball game to a pie baking contest. We also featured new additions, including an inflatable castle, water balloon fight, and even a potato sack race.
The great thing about the event was that with so many people, it was nearly impossible not to meet someone that has an interesting story about how he or she came to be in Africa. One volunteer that I met told me, “I came here on vacation once and fell in love. This is now my fourth time here, and I decided to start a non-profit school to help children get the education they deserve.”
This year proved to be another great event where everyone came together and celebrated well into the evening. The embassy's Fourth of July celebration truly made Americans feel as if they were at home. The only thing missing were some fireworks.