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Aug 12, 2019

ASYV's Term 2 Break - Critical Thinking for P.E.A.C.E, Lift Her Up, and More

Lift Her Up campers take a group photo.
Lift Her Up campers take a group photo.

Running from July 20th to August 3rd, the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village’s recent Term 2 break gave many of our students the opportunity to participate in a variety of educational and inspiring camps. From the fourth annual CTP Youth Peace Camp to the second annual Lift Her Up Camp, these activities enabled our students to explore topics like peacebuilding and gender equity, encouraging them to develop their passions and consider how they could apply those passions to Rwanda’s ongoing pursuit of peace and development. We are thrilled to share this brief update on our students’ activities during the recent break.

The fourth annual CTP Youth Peace Camp began on July 24th. Organized by Critical Thinking for P.E.A.C.E, an organization committed to empowering youth to employ critical thinking and compassion to solve some of the most pressing challenges to peace in their communities, this year’s camp enabled 22 ASYV students to consider the idea of “Positive Disruption for Continuous Development.” Beginning with introductions and icebreakers, the camp’s first session discussed positive disruption in Rwandan history. Featuring Member of Cabinet Francis Gatare as a guest speaker, this session emphasized the importance of disrupting the colonial exploitation of Hutu and Tutsi identities and concluded that, by overturning this system, the people of Rwanda have been able to move towards a shared Rwandan identity. Continuing through July 30th, follow-up sessions invited camp participants to discuss subjects ranging from positive disruption in business, with campers studying ways to advance Rwanda’s agriculture, transportation, and communication industries, to the positive disruption of prevailing gender norms, with guest speakers Esther Kunda and Dr. Tuyisenge Theodonata, both successful Rwandan women in the STEM fields, emphasizing the vital importance of gender inclusion in education and employment to Rwanda’s development.

The second annual Lift Her Up Camp began on July 22nd. Aiming to build girls’ sense of self-confidence, this year’s camp asked 15 ASYV students and four ASYV student mentors to consider the value of storytelling as a vehicle for empowerment. The camp’s first session laid the groundwork by providing campers with an introduction to the concepts of gender equity and feminism. Camp participants watched Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We should all be feminists” TED Talk, before separating into groups to discuss the ways people had discouraged them because of their gender, why they loved themselves despite this discouragement, and their female role models. These discussions were followed by a panel featuring guest speakers Dominique Uwase Alonga, Founder of Imagine We Rwanda, an organization dedicated to building Rwanda’s reading culture, and Délice Fatiro, Programs Associate with Resonate, an organization dedicated to unlocking East African women’s leadership potential. Dominique and Délice inspired camp participants with the message that they don’t have to wait for someone to tell them what to do, but rather that they should fight for what they believe in and what is right. Subsequent sessions included a confidence-building workshop with Resonate, a discussion focusing on mental health and body image, and a career development panel with Bridge2Rwanda. On July 25th, camp participants discussed the importance of community service and activism, a discussion they put into practice by building vegetable gardens for two local women. By showing participants that they have the strength to face life’s challenges, Lift Her Up helped campers to recognize their power and potential, and their capacity to make a positive difference for themselves, their community, and Rwanda.

Our first Speaking Out for Sustainable Peace (SOSP) Camp began on July 20th. Intended to teach interested students the critical thinking, debate, and leadership abilities they need to promote Rwanda’s peaceful development, this camp developed students’ debate and public speaking skills. Twenty ASYV students participated, with two students serving as camp facilitators. Over five days, each camp participant took part in skill development workshops, practice debate rounds, and a variety of public speaking and debate-oriented activities. With assistance from iDebate Rwanda, an organization committed to promoting debate and public speaking among Rwandan youth, these activities taught students verbal and non-verbal communication skills, how to construct and refute arguments, and how to analyze different kinds of evidence. Campers practiced by debating a variety of social and political issues, including topics relevant to gender, culture, and global affairs, before participating in a final debate tournament focused on peacekeeping in African countries. A university debate group from Kenya, Campde Voices, also attended, sharing their perspective on the role of debate in promoting peace in East Africa and beyond.

ASYV students were also able to participate in Future Agriculture Leaders’ inaugural Agri-Entrepreneurship Camp. Co-founded by Ferdinand Turatsinze, an ASYV graduate and current student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Future Agriculture Leaders seeks to educate aspiring entrepreneurs in innovative agriculture solutions. This camp gave ten ASYV students the chance to study modern agricultural techniques, including nursery preparation and drip irrigation. Participants in the Agri-Entrepreneurship Camp also practiced key elements of agriculture business ownership, with campers working to identify local business opportunities and using business model canvas templates to build their agribusiness ideas. Camp participants concluded the three-day experience by pitching their agribusiness ideas to a panel of agricultural entrepreneurs and innovators.

We hope you enjoyed this brief report on our students’ Term 2 break activities. If you would like to learn more about these camps, more pictures and information can be found on our social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It is thanks to your steadfast support that our students could enjoy these opportunities, and we could not be more grateful. Murakoze cyane (thank you very much)!

CTP Youth Peace campers in a group activity.
CTP Youth Peace campers in a group activity.
SOSP campers workshop a debate topic.
SOSP campers workshop a debate topic.

Links:

May 14, 2019

Our Enrichment Year Has a Name!

Ishyaka Grade takes the stage.
Ishyaka Grade takes the stage.

We recently shared the wonderful news of our Enrichment Year's arrival at Agahozo-Shalom. In the weeks and months that followed, our Enrichment Year students have continued to bond, building the relationships that breathe life into ASYV. In celebration of those relationships and their newfound family, our Enrichment Year students recently came together to name their grade and their student families. We hope you enjoy this brief report on our students' naming ceremony, which, in the words of our Enrichment Year Coordinator, spoke to "who we are as a family, and what it means to be a family.”

Each of our grades chooses a Kinyarwanda word to represent itself, with past grade names including Urumuli (Light), Icyizere (Hope), and Imena (Bravery). These names speak to our students’ highest ideals and give them a shared sense of pride in their identity and community. Recently, we invited our Enrichment Year students to carry on this tradition by choosing a name for their own grade. Every student was welcome to participate, with the most popular suggestions being Ishyaka (Enthusiasm/Determination) and Inganji (Victory). Once a name was chosen, they organized a special Village Time to share their decision with the community. Including music, dance, and modeling, this Village Time concluded with the naming ceremony. Comparable to a traditional Rwandan naming ceremony, or Kwita Izina, the ceremony began with some of our Enrichment Year students, the “children,” sharing a meal on stage while the “parents,” Village staff members, sat apart chatting and drinking banana juice. After the kids had finished eating, they lined up and began proposing names for the new grade, beginning their suggestions with the phrase, “I name this child…”. When they were done, the “parents” consulted with our Enrichment Year’s Mr. and Ms. Core Values, who played the part of our students’ “older siblings,” and announced that a name had been chosen – Ishyaka! Now known as Ishyaka Grade, our Enrichment Year students have decided who they are and what they will strive to represent at ASYV and beyond – determination and enthusiasm.

In addition to their grade name, our Enrichment Year students also chose names for their student families. Each of our students is placed in a family of 16-24 students each, and each family is named after a heroic historical figure. In their first couple of months at ASYV, our Enrichment Year students worked together to research and discuss historical figures whose example could serve as meaningful inspiration. When the naming ceremony arrived, our Enrichment Year students were ready to announce their new family names. Moved by the beliefs and achievements of several African and African-American historical figures, our Enrichment Year students announced that they had chosen the following names for their families: Josina Muthemba Machel, who fought for Mozambique’s independence and girls’ education; Booker T. Washington, leader of the Tuskegee Institute; Albertina Sisulu, anti-apartheid activist and South African parliamentarian; W.E.B. Du Bois, professor of sociology and founder of the NAACP; Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia; and Mary Kenner, inventor of the sanitary belt. With their family names announced, our Enrichment Year students concluded Village Time with a celebratory cake and dance party.

A key part of ASYV’s program is to provide our students with a sense of family, a place where they can feel loved and supported. These names will help us achieve that by giving our Enrichment Year grade and each of our Enrichment Year families a unique, personal identity. These identities speak to our Enrichment Year students’ values, what they believe is right, and what they believe they can achieve for themselves and others. It is a belief that we will strive to nurture over the next four years as our Enrichment Year students, our Ishyaka Grade, continue to recover from the traumas of the past and work towards a brighter, more compassionate future.

We hope you enjoyed this brief report on our Enrichment Year students’ naming ceremony. If you would like to learn more about this special event, we invite you to follow the link below to our “Enrichment Year’s New Name Is…” blog post. More pictures and information can also be found on our social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It is thanks to your steadfast support that our Enrichment Year students have been given this opportunity, and we could not be more grateful. Murakoze cyane (thank you very much)!

ASYV assembles for the naming ceremony.
ASYV assembles for the naming ceremony.
The "children" enjoy a traditional meal.
The "children" enjoy a traditional meal.
The Mary Kenner Family shares their new name.
The Mary Kenner Family shares their new name.

Links:

Feb 13, 2019

Our Class of 2022 Arrives at ASYV

Our Class of 2022 arrives at ASYV
Our Class of 2022 arrives at ASYV

The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is thrilled to announce the arrival of our Class of 2022! Joining us from across Rwanda, the 128 young people of our latest Enrichment Year, a special first year unique to the Village, have come to ASYV in the hope that our community can provide them with the education and support they need to build a better life. In this brief report, we would like to share an update on their first few weeks at ASYV, time in which our kids have already begun to dream of a brighter future and build bonds with friends and mentors, bonds that have the potential to last a lifetime.

On December 28th, our latest Enrichment Year passed through the Village’s gates for the very first time. Vincent Kalimba, Village Director, greeted our kids as they assembled at the Edmond J. Safra Community Center, where he opened our welcoming ceremony. A few of our returning students followed Vincent’s remarks with songs and a speech, performances which gave our youngest students the chance to meet the members of our Amahoro singing group and the president of ASYV’s student government. Together, these young leaders welcomed their newest brothers and sisters to the Village, celebrating their arrival and encouraging them to use their time at ASYV to the fullest. Our family mamas concluded the welcoming ceremony by embracing each of our kids, introducing them to their new student families with a hug and a smile. Key to our students’ recovery, these families will give our first-year students the stability and loving care they need to thrive at ASYV.

Once they had settled into their new student families, our kids spent the next couple of weeks acclimating to life in the Village. They learned our Core Values and began studying English and computer literacy. Many of our Enrichment Year students enjoyed learning new vocabulary words through song and dance, as well as speaking and reading exercises. One student, Vanessa, was particularly excited to use English to explore her own academic interests, sharing, “English helps us in our other areas of school…You can’t study in the S4 history class if you can’t write or read about history.” While they were studying synonyms and prefixes, our Enrichment Year kids were also learning how to type. About 85% of our kids had never used a computer before they came to ASYV. Now that they have access to this technology, a new world has opened up to them, a world full of information and abilities increasingly relevant to education and employment in Rwanda.

To conclude their orientation to Village life, our Enrichment Year kids ended their first two weeks at ASYV with a trip to Lake Mugesera. Arriving at the lake at 9 a.m., our kids spent the day playing games and chatting by the lakeside. Each of our student families also had the opportunity to go out on the lake, the first time many of our kids had ever been in a boat. Halfway through the day, our family mamas cooked a celebratory lunch, preparing a hearty meal of fish, rice, and beans, while our Village Director concluded the festivities with a dance party. It was a day to remember for our first-year students and a joyful beginning to their time at ASYV.

Over the weeks that followed, our Enrichment Year students continued to immerse themselves in the Village, seeking out new relationships and new opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. With the return of our S4, S5, and S6 students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors, in U.S. terms) on January 13th, our Enrichment Year kids began to build relationships with their older brothers and sisters, and by attending our student clubs and initiatives fair on January 23rd, they found exciting new ways to express themselves and advance the ideas and causes they believe in. As their first year with us continues, we cannot wait to see what the 128 members of our Class of 2022 accomplish at ASYV and beyond.

We hope you enjoyed this report on our Enrichment Year’s first few weeks at ASYV. If you would like to learn more about their time in the Village, we invite you to follow the links below to our “Welcome to the Class of 2022” video on YouTube and the “Welcome Back to our Students!” post on our blog. More pictures and information can also be found on our social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where you can read about activities like Heroes’ Day and an intramural basketball game between our S6 and Enrichment Year students. It is thanks to your steadfast support that our Enrichment Year students have these opportunities, and we could not be more grateful. Murakoze cyane (thank you very much)!

An Enrichment Year family portrait
An Enrichment Year family portrait
A holiday at Lake Mugesera
A holiday at Lake Mugesera
Enrichment Year and S6 students bond through sport
Enrichment Year and S6 students bond through sport

Links:

 
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