CMU Project Rwanda

July 9, 2011, 1:54 pm
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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!
July 9, 2011, 1:23 pm
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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
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

July 8, 2011, 1:11 pm
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Day 4: Final day of teaching
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
July 8, 2011, 12:35 pm
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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:
July 7, 2011, 12:17 pm
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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