A Report on the Trip to Rwanda, from the desk of Lauren Caldarera:
Dear Friends of the Global Village and Books & Beyond,
As you may know, 11 teachers and students from IU Global Village and TEAM Schools went to Rwanda as part of the Books & Beyond project. Our main goals were to deliver 1900 copies of The World is Our Home, the stories written and illustrated by the IU Global Village and TEAM School students this past year and conduct teacher training at Kabwende Primary School in Kinigi. Being in Rwanda, we were able to accomplish much more.
Professor Beth Samuelson held two days of workshops for the 27 teachers on using The World Is Our Home to teach critical literacy skills. The Rwanda government recently mandated that all education must be in English. There has been little training for teachers to prepare them for the transition away from French and Ikinyarwanda. Beth’s training illustrated the need for English literacy training amongst teachers to meet the government’s new requirement and to ensure the success of the Books & Beyond project. During the trip we were put in contact with a Tanzanian teacher, David, who is fluent in French, English and Ikinyarwanda. David, will be conducting intensive training at the school in July and meet weekly with the teachers through December 2009. With David’s help, the teachers will have a better grasp of English, Beth’s curriculum, and be able to facilitate student story writing in the Primary 5 and 6 classes.
While in Kinigi, we were invited to meet Mayor Celeste Karabayinga of Musanze (the province for Kabwende Primary School). Mayor Karabayinga was impressed with the project and asked for us to formalize our intentions in a letter of understanding that he could present to the Ministry of Education. (He was also to eager to use the project as an example of English training occurring in his province.) After leaving Kabwende Primary School we spent two days at the Akagera National Park. Besides seeing a host of antelope, zebra, and giraffe we also met the US Ambassador to Rwanda, Stuart Symington. He was equally delighted with the project and encouraged us to make contact with the Ministry of Education.
For me, I was impacted by the two IU and the three Team Schools students. The IU students, Caitlin Ryan and Chris Purvis, we an amazing asset to the project. Caitlin documented the entire experience. She conducted interviews with the team, teachers and students at the school. She will be compiling her footage into videos to raise awareness about Books & Beyond. Chris served as the intern and support for Professor Samuelson. He helped with making photocopies, gathering supplies, and running errands. While this may seem like mundane tasks in the US, in Rwanda these tasks can take all day and require extensive patience and persistence. While I can’t speak for Chris and Caitlin, and I hope that this experience is one that they will learn and grow from and that will impact them for the rest of their lives. The three TEAM students aged 11, 14, 17 also had powerful experiences. As African-American tweens and teens they struggled with their identity. Meeting Kabwende students close in age and sharing information about the US helped to connect the girls to the people and culture in Rwanda.
In the next few weeks, we will have pictures and videos to share. Chris and Caitlin be at the GV during Welcome Week presenting to our new students. I will let you know when the presentation will be so you can join us and hear about the trip from a students’ perspective. In October, 16 TEAM students will be visiting IU to kick-off the 2nd year of Books & Beyond. The project keeps moving forward…