Nov 11, 2019

Congratulations to ASYV's Graduating Class of 2019

The Class of 2019, Isonga Grade
The Class of 2019, Isonga Grade

On October 17th, the 140 members of ASYV’s Class of 2019 celebrated their graduation from the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. It was a momentous day for our graduates, with guardians and guests joining them from across Rwanda and around the world. Marked by words of congratulations and encouragement from visitors like Claudette Irere, Permanent Secretary of the Rwandan Ministry of ICT & Innovation, and ASYV leaders like Laure Iyaga, Village Director, the day gave our graduates a well-deserved opportunity to recognize their shared achievements before going out into the world ready to make a difference.

Our Class of 2019 chose the name Isonga to represent their grade, a Kinyarwanda word meaning “best”. We believe that this name is a perfect fit for our graduating class. Four years ago, our Class of 2019 first arrived at ASYV. Despite growing up in some of Rwanda’s most vulnerable communities, where limited access to education and care often undermined their self-confidence and personal growth, they demonstrated an incredible hope for the future when they made the decision to be called Isonga Grade, the “best”. This decision declared their intention to make the most of their time at Agahozo-Shalom and, by discovering and developing their unique talents and passions, they have done exactly that.

This year’s event gave several graduates a platform for their extraordinary accomplishments. Five received awards in recognition of their academic progress and contributions to ASYV, including: Bosco, who received the Impactful Initiative Award for his founding of Youth Impact Mission for Africa, a club dedicated to leadership and community service; Sabine, who received the Support and Leadership Award for her commitment to student government and her consistent effort to be a mentor and role model to her peers; Providence, who received the Innovation and Creativity Award for her artistic achievements and creative contributions to a variety of Village events; Fabrice, who received the Academic Excellence Award for his positive attitude to learning and dedication to his chosen combination; and Elisabeth, who received the Best Academic Improvement Award for her drive to study and, ultimately, succeed in the face of adversity.

One of the five awardees, Fabrice, was also chosen to deliver a speech as Isonga Grade’s class representative. Addressing his classmates, Fabrice reminded them that “the journey has not been easy, but we moved together, supported each other, and today we are celebrating together.” With his classmates considering their next steps, Fabrice also called on his peers to use what they had learned at Agahozo-Shalom to create positive change, saying “It is now the time to spread our wings and explore the world, building on the foundation ASYV has given us to create a profound impact in the lives of others…” Together, Fabrice believes that they can be “the agents of peace, love, and support that our country and the entire world needs…” Now pursuing his dream of studying computer science in university, Fabrice sets an example of what our graduates can accomplish and why we believe they deserve the name Isonga Grade.

We hope you enjoyed this brief look into our Class of 2019’s graduation ceremony. If you would like to learn more about our graduates and their transformative experiences at ASYV, we invite you to follow the link below to watch our “4 Years of Achievement – Celebrating the Isonga Graduates” video. Shown during the graduation ceremony, this video shines a spotlight on graduates like Providence, who won our Innovation and Creativity Award and now aspires to open her own design business, and Jean de Dieu, who has accrued considerable videography experience at ASYV and now hopes to become a professional filmmaker. Thanks to your steadfast support, our Class of 2019 has achieved great things and we cannot wait to see what they accomplish next. From all of us at Agahozo-Shalom, murakoze cyane (thank you very much)!

Fabrice Addresses his Peers
Fabrice Addresses his Peers
Isonga Grade Marches to the Graduation Ceremony
Isonga Grade Marches to the Graduation Ceremony

Links:

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:

 
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