CMU Project Rwanda

DAY 5: TOURING KIGALI by cmuprojectrwanda
July 9, 2011, 1:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Its the second last day of my stay here & I really wish we had a few more days with the kids and even roaming around in Kigali…!!!!We started the day at OLPC where we had a final gathering with the schoolkids and also had a meeting with the a parents. So, for three hours, we met around with the kids, taught them other applications, played games…in other words HAD FUN…!!!I was feeling so heavyhearted while saying goodbye to the kids. We bid adieu to the kids and the parents  and left for UTC to meet the CMU students from Pittsburgh – Alimo & Jinsub. Then we talked about for a while & had lunch at Zaffran (another Indian restaurant).

After lunch, we took a 15 minute walk (& took a lot of pictures on the way) to the local shops of Kigali for souvenirs. Then we headed to Kigali Memorial Center along with Jinsub. I have no words to describe the feelings that went through me as I walked through the different rooms inside the memorial (I don’t have much knowledge about the history of Rwanda but I was aware of the genocide that took place). They had detailed accounts of the mass killings as well as skeletal remains on display which was quite a shocking sight. It was especially heart wrenching to see the pictures of kids aged 2 to 11 years old & then see the causes of their death depicted next to their pictures. It was quite hard for me to see the graves & was pretty quite after the trip. It made me appreciate my efforts here & I feel really wonderful to help this country which has gone through such terrible times via education.

I am looking forward to my last night in Rwanda. I am really going to miss all of this….!!!!


Nabeeha Fatima Haque


So one day to go! by cmuprojectrwanda
July 9, 2011, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Our last night in Rwanda, finally we are almost done. Today we had our last chance to interact with the kids. Our last session with them was informal. We had their parent come and the parents were so happy and glad with the result that we have achieved with their kids. Tomorrow we leave Rwanda going back home, after helping these kids learn something new. A week just passed really quickly, we had so much fun, the kid had fun, everyone is happy. There is so much in my mind, I cannot really express everything. I think that is happening because I am going to miss Rwanda so much. I am going to miss everything about Rwanda especially those kids. Although they drove me crazy so many times, but they have taught me how to be patient. Rwanda was not a learning experience only for the kids; it was a big learning experience for me.  I know that my blog post today is not as good as the ones before ,sorry!

Maybe I will end this post with the quick story, looking back when thing did not work or looked like it is not going to work. Everything was putting us down, we almost gave up, and cancel the whole trip. But do you know what makes the difference; it was us, if we gave up from the beginning or eve at the end we would be here. Yes things are though sometimes, but we have to keep trying and tiring until the end, we should not stop at any point. From point of view, the motto for this trip should be “Giving up is not an option for us ”


Mohammed Al-haddad

Day 5: Last day with the kids by cmuprojectrwanda
July 9, 2011, 12:58 pm
Filed under: CMU Project Rwanda 2.0

So we woke up at around 7 am today and got ready for our meeting with the students and their parents in the World Relief, which was at 9 am. There were many students and we didn’t expect so many of them to show up. Their parents were there too. The students were given the laptops and they could use them for a while. It was great to see some of them using Tam Tam Jam, when they could actually play games in the laptops. They were dragging and dropping musical instruments and were adding loops to them. We also played “Simon says” with them. At the end, we took group pictures with the students and their parents, I will post them as soon as I reach Qatar.

After that, we took two cabs to the Union Trade Center because we were supposed to meet two students from the Pittsburgh campus. So they joined us and we walked to Zaaffran for lunch. After that we went to Kigali Arts and Crafts shop to get some souvenirs, and from there we took two cabs to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. I read about the genocide before coming here, but I was quite shocked when I saw the pictures and the documentaries about the people who survived the war in the memorial. There were skulls and bones of the people who died during the war, and pictures of people missing who most probably died, too. The worst part was when we went to the section where there were pictures of little children, who died during the war. Its really sad, but after coming out from there I kind of feel proud of us for what we did for the last 3 days for the children here.

So we came to the internet cafe directly from the memorial, and after this we might go for dinner and then return back to the convent. Tonight is our last night in Rwanda. I am going to miss this place 😦

– Humaira

DAY 3: FINALE by cmuprojectrwanda
July 8, 2011, 1:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Day 4: Final day of teaching by cmuprojectrwanda
July 8, 2011, 12:58 pm
Filed under: CMU Project Rwanda 2.0

So we woke up at around 6:30 am and were ready for our final day of teaching. We created the lesson plan last night, and were pretty excited in the morning with all the candies and goodies Abhay got for them. We started teaching at 8:15 am, the first two classes were basically what we taught the morning session the previous day. We talked about musical loops, and showed them how to work with Tam Tam Jam.

Finally big goal achieved by cmuprojectrwanda
July 8, 2011, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Today was a big day, very tiring but we have achieved big goals for today. Today I am confident to say that these kids know the principle and basic of programming really well. Looking back at all the challenges and issues when have been through, what we have achieved today is amazing. Different combination of commands, on various levels of difficulties, to get to that point with kids in age of 8 to 11 is a very big thing. Today patient was the key of our success; we have to patient in everything. Kids today were so happy and delighted with the results they achieved. The sad thing of today, those kids did not really understand or accept the fact that we are leaving and this is our last day. When we told them bye we are leaving, they said see you tomorrow or see you on Monday. What is more sad for today, was to girls from grade 6 came to me and asked me when are you coming to teach us. Yes very limited resources problem. But let’s think about in this way, what if each one of us, with “relatively limited and short experience” came and helped these students for couple of days, can make the difference? Can we help this large number of students? Can we make a big difference together?

I believe the answer is yes, of course we can do it, let’s not forget the benefits and the experience you as person will gain from this kind of experience. Then who is up for Rwanda?

Mohammed Al-haddad


DAY 2: by cmuprojectrwanda
July 7, 2011, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

After an intense night of  planning, I was looking forward to this day. Today we taught both the morning and the afternoon sessions. After a not so good start to the first class of the morning session, I was really happy to see how they responded to today’s class. They were very responsive; even answered couple of questions during the recap. Then we played a game called “I like” which was very similar to last year’s trip. The kids enjoyed the game very much & I was happy to see them overcome their shyness. We then proceeded on with the aim to teach them another music application called “Tam Tam Jam”. It was in this program, that we introduced the concept of loops as well as musical loops to the children. For better understanding, Hammad, Humaira and I carried out a set of beats in a continuous manner & even asked the children to repeat it with us. We also taught them how to play different instruments via concept keywords such as “PLAY- color” & “STOP – white” which indicated that when the instruments were in play mode they would have a colored background; & have a white background when in stop mode. We then allowed them to play around the application. The second class did not go smoothly due to sound issues. Henceforth, they are a little behind (they did not reach the concept of joining loops yet) but otherwise they showed similar results to the first class & we ended with a round of “Simon says”. (Hammad was pretty hilarious with his bhangra & I felt Like I was a having a Physical Education class. …but it was fun nonetheless.

It was my first time with the afternoon session (the morning & afternoon sessions go on rotation;i.e., if today Class X and Y had afternoon session & Class A and B had morning session, then tomorrow,  Class X and Y would have morning session, & Class A and B would have afternoon session). Our team (Hammad, me and Humaira) were quite drained out (morning session was for four hours) & worried over the fact that we wont be as successful with then as we were with the one yesterday. But Hammad and Humaira did quite a good job of taking over the ice braekers & going on withe class ( I would have never been able to carry out the way I did if it weren’t for them). We ended the class early for them where they played around with other programs such as the “Foodattack” game & the camera. (It was quite amusing to see them snap pictures of themselves posing & also they took a lot of photos of Humaira..she has quite a fanclub…:))

It was another exhilarating day..bu I m really unsure of what we will do for tomorrow since it will be our last day…OUR FINALE…..*drum rolls*…!!!!


Nabeeha Fatima Haque


Teaching after a while becomes an adventure by cmuprojectrwanda
July 7, 2011, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Today’s ends with some really good results. After a night full of discussion, we came up with a plan where we do not really know if it works or not. We reached the intended goal for today, Forever loop with a condition and couple of different actions.  It is so amazing the look that the students had , it is like we did such a great job, this fun to do. Although we were disturbed by the noise of “Myo” they were making and keep doing, it was fine. Of course we saw different levels of understanding and different styles of learning we should be accommodate and pay attention to.  I believe the key for being a good teacher, is to be patient. Which I am not to be honest especially with my family or friends, I am not a patient teacher at all. I think this teaching adventure helped a lot learn and understand so many things.

Today we reached our goal, with some difficulties and complexities. Tomorrow is more challenging. The main issue we have is the complexity; personally I was afraid that students will not be able to understand this because it is kind of complicated. Now we are dealing with more complex situation, what is the next complex, fun thing they should be able to do. We still do not have the answer. Hopefully by dinner we have an answer, if not, I am not going to have enough sleep L


Mohammed Al-haddad

Day 3: 8 hours of teaching by cmuprojectrwanda
July 7, 2011, 12:07 pm
Filed under: CMU Project Rwanda 2.0

Today was the second day of teaching and its been quite a long day. We had to teach four classes with a 1 hour break in between, so most of us are very tired and can’t wait to get back to the convent.

We reached the school at around 8 am and started teaching at 8:15 am. The first class went very well today. We started with a game as an icebreaker. We took the students outside the class and made them play the iLike game, and I guess that helped a lot with the rest of the class since all of them had fun and were pretty excited about the class. They stopped being shy and were responding better than yesterday. We introduced them to the Tam Tam Jam interface and taught them about loops in music. They now know how to use the application, and to join musical loops to different musical instruments.

The second class wasn’t as good as the first one. We had the same lesson plan for both the classes, but it didn’t work out well with the second class. Most of them had issues with the laptops since they weren’t making any sound, and so they couldn’t follow what we were saying. Some of the students were playing games and it was quite difficult to tell them to stop doing that. Jimmy told us that when there are many applications open at the same time, the sound for Tam Tam stops working, and we have to close everything and restart Tam Tam. We had to do this for most of the laptops and that took away a lot of our time. So we will have to continue with today’s lesson plan tomorrow.

The third and fourth classes were pretty similar to the classes we had on the first day, except that we finished earlier because the students already knew to drag and move the volume and tempo bars. We played SimonSays with them. They were doing somersaults and push ups, so we had a good work out session with them 😛 At the end, we played games with everyone outside and my legs hurt now. We were playing musical chair, and yes, I fell from the chair 😛

It was a good day overall. We just have one more day of teaching left. We are still planning what to do tomorrow since we want a finale, but we don’t have time for that. So… *fingers crossed* 🙂

– Humaira

DAY 2: TEAM TAM TAM by cmuprojectrwanda
July 6, 2011, 12:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

OUR FIRST DAY OF TEACHING IS FINALLY HERE..!! But when we reached there we discovered that the laptops could not be accessed without the Ministry’s permission..(sigh)..!!so there was more WAITING involved..!!Hence, we decided to tour around the school in the meantime. The moment we reached the playground we were mobbed by a dozen school children. For once, I felt like a celebrity..LOL!! The kids were very eager to meet with us & shake hands & literally clung to us. By 10:15 pm, we met with the guy from the ministry who gave permission & we proceeded with checking the laptops with the OLPC people.  We had to start with the afternoon section because it was too late for the morning section where each section had two hours & by the end we swap with the other section. I was very nervous & felt like my first section did not go well. It was quite a large class & the laptops were not distributed in advance. I was a bit disappointed as I had to hurry though & was not sure of the responses from the students. During the swap Abhay gave helpful pointers such as to play more games. Hence I took those pointers & it really turned out fruitful. The kids were more responsive & we were also helped by the OLPC guys. At the end, it was very exhausting but it felt really wonderful to be surrounded by such a friendly atmosphere. Looking forward for the next day..:D!


Nabeeha Fatima Haque