Field Notes from Rwanda: One Alum’s Journey

Alumnus Luis Blandon and his wife recently spent time in Rwanda with the non-profit Global Communities.

Alumnus Luis Blandon and his wife during their stint in Rwanda with the non-profit organization Global Communities. (Photo: Courtesy Luis Blandon)

For Luis Blandon, CCAS BA ’85, ESIA MA ’92, storytelling is more than a passion—it’s a calling. Blandon, a freelance content developer with expertise in writing and visual storytelling, has worked on a variety of projects, television shows to documentaries.

“I love talking about what’s really happening—not numbers and facts, but the nuances of places and people.”

In January 2014, Blandon spent 11 days in Rwanda in conjunction with the international non-profit organization Global Communities, whose mission is to foster sustainable changes in vulnerable communities worldwide.

The trip marked Blandon’s first time in Africa and he documented his time in a series of articles for Global Communities. Blandon visited the organization’s projects in Rwanda during the “Cracking the Nut” conference, an event that highlighted innovations in the development of rural and agricultural livelihoods, financial inclusion and increasing rural food security and nutrition in Africa.

“Telling the story of Rwanda—the land and its people—was important to me,” he says.

Throughout his stay, Blandon visited both rural areas and cities, giving him perspective on everything from infrastructure, to water access, to agriculture. The experience was eye-opening.

A group of villagers that Blandon met during his stay in Rwanda. (Photo: Luis Blandon)

A group of villagers that Blandon met during his stay in Rwanda. (Photo: Luis Blandon)

“The struggles of day and night continue for [everyone] in these rural areas,” Blandon writes in one article. “Aided by the programs that improve their daily existence, they tear down the barriers that had existed for decades and day by day, they overcome hardships.”

Blandon, who was born and raised in Washington, DC, says he’s inspired by seeing other people in their daily lives. And while writing is his favorite medium, Blandon also loves film and video because “it allows you to see the story in a different, bigger way.”

When he’s not supporting organizations like Global Communities through field reporting, you’ll find Blandon hard at work on documentaries—including one about the life of George Washington. In May, he’ll be immersed in a documentary about Chinese immigration.

The common thread throughout all of Blandon’s storytelling and research is attention to detail—sometimes the smallest interactions or gestures bring a story to light.

“You never know when it’s coming,” Blandon explains, “but you’ll see something, and you’re able to express it in a different way. That’s why I love what I do.”

–Melissa Nyman

Want to know more? Read Blandon’s articles about his journey:

Ruts in the Road: A trip through Rwanda

Toughness in Yellow: Sharing Lessons on Food Security and Nutrition in Rwanda

Dig to Harvest: Promoting Improved Nutrition in Rwanda

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