Rwanda 2014: The Summary

Do you ever wonder why you have three thousand pictures from your last vacation and mayyyybe one photo from the office or school? When I looked back on this blog, I realized that I covered many adventures around the country, but never really explained exactly what we were doing for work throughout our trip of two months. After settling back into America for a month and attending my first practicum seminar (the discussion class at Boston College to supplement the practicum) I think that it would now be helpful to compile a photo essay of the work that we did and to summarize the experience as a whole.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the students were only in session through five of our eight weeks. For the preliminary weeks, I taught science, religion, sacraments, and English to the P4 and P5 students, and English to the teachers. Emily and Aaron also taught similar subjects, but instead of science Emily taught computer and Aaron taught social studies.

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The school received ten brand-new computers for their library and media centre. Emily found creative ways to teach typing without the convenience of good old Mavis Beacon. Colour coding always works!


My sacraments class (First year of Baptism preparation) hard at work on a Friday afternoon. Their teacher is teaching the lesson in Kinyarwanda, and afterwards I would teach a similar lesson in English.

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Recess is over! Teacher Emily rings the “bell.”

Throughout the two months we were there, ENDA started breaking ground on a new administrative block (building) that will include one floor of office space and a second floor with an expanded library and media centre. It was pretty cool to follow the construction process as we were there. They made great progress considering it was all constructed by hand!

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When I walked into the library/media centre during the first week, I noticed they had four bookcases full of books, which were all lined up along the back wall behind a room full of chairs and computers. It seemed a little bit inaccessible from the door way, but it was great that they had at least some books from which to choose. Upon closer examination, I was appalled to find that the books were literally arranged by size. This meant that if a younger student went to search for a Dr. Seuss book, it could be mixed in with adult chapter books and science encyclopedias. As the weeks wore on, it started to bother me that the school had this great resource which none of the students or teachers ever glanced at. So I took it upon myself to start up an extra little project of a library overhaul. It was by no means perfect, and I didn’t even have time to alphabetize them, but I can only hope it’s a start to encourage the students at ENDA to pick up a book and read. After sorting and rearranging the books and bookcases, the last part of the project was to educate the teachers on how to use the the library and share the books with the children. Some of the teachers were really excited! Hopefully in the future the students will learn on their own how to read for fun!

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The library as I found it… with the books organized roughly from smallest to largest! Very easy to locate your favourite title!

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First task… sort the books by category (fiction and non-fiction, reference, religion, French, and Kinyarwanda) and by reading level from nursery to older students.

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Second task… colour code the books. Shown here are the fiction books arranged by easy/medium/difficult.

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Guide to the library system.

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The finished project with a reading corner!

In the sixth week we had a short holiday for travel, and returned for two weeks of holiday sessions. In one session the P5 students performed a play on the travel narrative on the Gospel of Luke. They did such a great job memorizing their lines, and they invited their parents to see the final product at the end of the week.

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The kids showed me how to high jump Rwandan style! Without a mat, it turns into more of a hurdle/limbo, but some of them were really talented at it.

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Aaron leads an opening activity for teachers in the morning session.

For the last week we were there, we worked with the primary school teachers every morning on English composition and discussion as well as Microsoft Powerpoint and Excel. All the teachers were super enthusiastic about their opportunity to improve their skills, and there was a substantial change in their conversational abilities by the end of the course. They inspired me in so many ways (especially working a 7am-6pm workday!) and now I consider many of them to be my friends! After the primary school teachers, we taught nursery school teachers in the afternoons. This was MUCH more challenging. For example, on the first day, we spent the entire first hour learning how to indroduce a neighbor to the group. After we struggled through that simple exercise, we taught them how to access their new school emails on computer. This took almost an hour and a half. Yet every single teacher was absolutely thrilled to be sending emails in English/French/Kinyarwanda to her friends around her. Though we barely had time to cover topics such as the desktop, mouse, and Microsoft Word, I think we can safely say they were excited about the small improvements they made in a week.

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While Aaron and Emily covered computer instruction, I led English poetry, grammar, discussion, and composition. Teacher Masabo looks pretty thrilled about his paragraph!

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Teacher Leandre teaches P6 and has quite a bit of experience at computers, so he was able to create and present a Powerpoint about the East African Community. It was impressive!

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The Boston College teachers with the powerhouse P6 teachers!

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Farewell party pics with some of the teachers+ faculty!

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A gift from the school… traditional Rwandan basket, or a “peace basket” as Sr. Anna described it.

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The teachers and administrators put on a fantastic farewell party. It was bittersweet, but truly a symbol of the friendships formed between our two communities. Here we are with Sr. Anna and Sr. Dominique who both run the show at ENDA.


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