What’s true in our country is also true in Rwanda: education based only on books, classes, and examinations is not enough to cause the kind of change that leads to transformations. We know, from our own learning experiences, that:
- vision and imagination come from experiences beyond the local environment
- tolerance and care come from meeting and befriending other people; and
- leadership comes from self-confidence, vision, and care.
So in order for our students to have the best chance to sustain and build upon the the transformations that have already started occurring in Rwanda, their horizons of experience need to be expanded beyond Rwanda’s borders.
To do this, Kittelson Charitable Foundation has brought some of the best-performing secondary school students to the United States during their school breaks. The visits generally last only 2-3 weeks but they have clearly changed the lives of the boys and girls who have come. As important, the visiting students have inspired their classmates, friends, and family members when they returned to work diligently in school and at their jobs. And of course they have also enriched the lives of people in the United States who had the opportunity to meet and know them.
Following are the names and brief descriptions of the students we have brought to visit the United States so far, and links to videos that show some of the highlights of their time here.
- Emile Nsengiyumva was a 19-year old high school junior when he visited Portland Oregon in December 2008. Today he is receiving marks of distinction at a Rwandan university where he is entering his Junior yearof college and studying Information Science and Technology.
- Steven Afazari was a 21-year old 8th grader when he visited Baltimore, Maryland in April 2009. He was invited to visit the United States because he was peforming so well in school and because of his willingness to step outside his comfort zone. Since returning to Rwanda, he has become a quiet and confident leader among his peers. He also performed well enough in the national examinations to move up to a higher-quality high school (APRED), where he is currently a Junior.
- Emmy Nkotanyi was a 16-year old 8th grader when he visited Portland, Oregon in August 2009. Like Steven, his stature is high among his peers and he has also transferred into a higher-quality high school (Umutara Polytechnic) where he is currently a Junior.
- Ivan Mutabazi was 19 years old and had just graduated from high school when he came to visit Portland, OR and Boise, ID in November and December of 2009. After his visit he returned to Rwanda and entered Umutara Polytechnic Institute as a Business major but he yearned to study in the U.S. His English was good, his grades were good, and in the Spring of 2011 his application for admission to George Fox University (in Newberg, OR) was accepted. He has received both grants and scholarships in addition to support from KCF. Ivan will graduate in Global Business in May 2015 and intends to earn an MBA before returning to Rwanda.
- Jeannette Uwamahoro was a 19-year old high school sophomore when she visited Portland, OR in April 2011.