Dear Friends of the Books & Beyond Project,
Professor Beth Samuelson and doctoral student James Kigamwa returned from a week-long trip to Rwanda. The purpose of the trip was to collect the stories written by Kabwende Primary School students on the theme of “home” or “safe place”. Beth and James collected over 25 stories that share the experiences of Kabwende students growing up in Rwanda through parables, narratives, and even jokes. I have only begun to read the stories but am very impressed and fascinated by them so far.
In addition to collecting the stories, Beth and James also:
- had the approximately 25 stories in English and Kinyarwanda typed by a local typist;
- conducted three discussions with students (15 total) to discuss their experiences with the project so far;
- conducted one discussion with teachers and received a wish list from teachers identifying their needs;
- met with the assistant to the Musanze mayor to explain the project’s progress to date;
- visited the English and Communication Department at the Kigali Institute of Education. Met with Dept. Chair, Cyprien Niyomugabo, and discussed possible collaborations; and,
- met Steven Mugisha, founding president of the Rwanda Book Development Initiative, to discuss future collaborations.
Beth and James’s trip to Rwanda further solidified our partnership with the Kabwende Primary School. The students presented the stories in a ceremony that included traditional dancing and speeches. The teachers were appreciative of the English language classes they have received and will continue to receive through the rest of the school year. Due to these supplemental English classes the majority of the Kabwende Primary School teaches passed the national English benchmark pre-test. Those who did not pass have time to prepare for the upcoming national English exam required of all Rwandan teachers. As you can see it was a very worthwhile and rewarding trip. We are eagerly awaiting our next visit.
In the next few weeks, Beth will be writing a report of her trip to share with everyone. The GV students will also begin editing the Rwandan stories and organizing them for publishing with the stories from The World is Our Home.
Thank you all for your ongoing support of the project. I will continue to keep you updated on the progress of Books & Beyond.