Books and Beyond at Indiana University delivering project anthologies in Rwanda

IU students will conduct camp to help Rwandan primary-school students with English

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A dozen Indiana University students and their supervisors left Sunday for nearly a month in Rwanda as a part of the Books and Beyond project.

The trip is an annual event of the collaborative service-learning project that connects students in IU's Global Village Living-Learning Center, middle and high school students in New Jersey, and African primary-school pupils in Rwanda who collaborate on storytelling, writing and publishing new books. Global Village Living-Learning Center is a residential-academic program affiliated with the School of Global and International Studies in the IU College of Arts and Sciences for students seeking to expand their knowledge of world affairs, foreign languages and cultures.

Every year, students from Global Village work with middle and high school students in the TEAM Schools, part of the KIPP Charter School network, in Newark, N.J., to create the stories that go into the published volume. The partners engage all of the students to author, illustrate, publish and market their own short stories for children.

The participants will deliver the latest published work from the project this week. The most recent edition of “The World Is Our Home” is the sixth volume of stories, containing a “best of” anthology from the project that started in 2009. The books are intended to fall within a range of reading levels to provide accessible texts for all English readers.

"Cover of the Books and Beyond project's sixth volume in the series being delivered to Rwandan school children this week.This is the first year that the collection of stories is bilingual in Kinyarwanda and English,” said Beth Samuelson, assistant professor in the Department of Literacy, Culture and Language Education in the IU School of Education and faculty coordinator of the project. “Instead of writing new stories, the best stories from the previous five years were compiled and translated. The resulting volume is visually appealing, with consistently high-quality stories."

Samuelson co-teaches the course for IU students involved in the Books and Beyond project with Jeff Holdeman, director of the Global Village Living-Learning Center, and Vera Marinova, assistant director.

The IU students will help conduct the Kabwende Holiday Camp at Kabwende Primary School in Kinigi, Rwanda. During the three-week camp, they’ll work with 200 primary-school students on English literary skills, facilitating interactive lessons focused on reading, writing and English conversation skills. The camp comes after an eight-week training session in Bloomington. In Rwanda, the IU students will go through on-site training in the Kinyarwanda language, which is spoken by nearly all native Rwandans.

Students from IU Bloomington have traveled to the Kabwende Primary School each summer since 2009. Aside from the work they’ll conduct at the camp, they’ll learn about Rwandan history and culture. Some of the planned excursions include a visit to the cities of Kigali, Butare and Gisenyi, as well as sites such as the Gisozi Genocide Museum, a memorial built on the burial site of a quarter of a million victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Books and Beyond is the brainchild of IU alumna Nancy Uslan and has been enthusiastically embraced by students and faculty alike. Uslan became interested in starting an education project for Rwanda after visiting the country many years ago.