Thoughts and photos from Africa - Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry - Penn State Altoona

Thoughts and photos from Africa

Along with Penn State Altoona students and faculty, Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry is currently in Africa. The goal of the trip is to further develop our partnership with the Star School of Kigali, Rwanda to design and implement social entrepreneurship projects in a country still recovering from the 1994 genocide. Penn State Altoona students and faculty work with Star School children, teachers, and administrators to create sustainable business models that result in education, empowerment, and success.

Below are thoughts and photos from the Chancellor's trip.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

2013 Africa
Sporting new outfits from the Cooperative

2013 Africa
The Cooperative

2013 Africa
Looking cool!

2013 Africa
At the market

2013 Africa
At the airport

2013 Africa
Sweet dreams of home

By Donnan Stoicovy, Principal and Lead Learner at Park Forest Elementary School

It seemed strange not having to get up early - although I still did, being the morning person that I am - since we were told that we could sleep in. Breakfast was waiting for us until 10:00 a.m. Everyone would move their things into either Cynthia's, Lee Ann's, or my room before we went trekking through Kigali today, since we were leaving at 10:30 p.m. for the airport. Almost everyone took advantage of the offer to sleep in.

I had come downstairs and was enjoying some Rwandan black tea and working on my blog when Marjorie showed up "out of uniform" wearing a t-shirt and jeans. She had arrived early for a meeting with Lee Ann and was able to sit and talk with me while Lee Ann was getting ready. Marjorie looked uncharacteristically weary and I asked her what was wrong. She indicated that hosting so many people (Cyrus and Beth from World Help, Bishop Nathan Amooti, and our Penn State Altoona team) along with her day to day responsibilities were wearing on her. I apologized for any stress that we were adding and she said that it goes with the job. I told her that Chancellor Bechtel-Wherry and I definitely could relate to what she was feeling and that she was entitled to feel that way. We did change our conversation to talk a little bit about next year with the teachers and what she would like us to do with students. She is definitely much more engaged with our team this year. I think the fact that we have returned and committed to engaging in sustainable projects for the Star School has increased her connection to us.

After breakfast and meeting with Lee Ann and Cynthia to go over the ongoing projects, Marjorie left us for another meeting. We greeted the Penn State Altoona students as they arrived for breakfast and encouraged them to get packed up, get moved out, pay their bills, and turn in their keys so that they would not be charged for another day. We would pay the extra day so that suitcases were secure and had a place to shower after a day out in Kigali.

Bob arrived at 10:30 a.m. and took Lee Ann to the airport for a meeting. He then waited for us to get ready. We left for downtown Kigali and parked at our usual parking garage. We would look for a Team Rwanda soccer jersey, go to the Cooperative to barter for a few more souvenir purchases, and then visit the Nakamatt for any last minute coffee, teas, etc. We would not go to Bourbon's again for lunch (rather pricey). Instead Bob took us back to Meze Fresh for more burritos - everyone enjoyed the food their and the price.

When Lee Ann met up with us, we traveled to another market and get a real market experience. They wanted to buy more fabric to have bow ties made and necklaces for the Enactus students. It was getting close to sunset so we needed to hurry along. We passed a church in which a large number of people had sought refuge from the genocide but ended up being murdered within those very walls. There are so many places that remain that signal the horror of the genocide and act as reminders to never let it happen again. Another landmark that we frequently passed was the Parliament building, which still has a wall riddled with bullet holes, shell holes, and other signs of the war. These images continue to remain in my mind.

The market was jammed with people selling their wares as well as people there to bargain for the best prices for their wants and needs. For me, one of the lessons (among many) that I take home with me from Rwanda is what is truly a "need" and what are "wants." Our purchases were made quickly and we were on our way back to Jamba Guest House for our dinner, goodbyes, and the taxis to the airport.

Our usual dinner location was being used for a wedding so we moved to the front restaurant area. Some people ate and others did not since their meal at Meze Fresh was not too long ago. We cleaned up and prepared for the ride to Kigali International and the multiple security checkpoints that we would need to go through. We took pictures with the staff, wished our host Patrick, goodbye, and packed up our belongings. During all of this we had tears in our eyes, but also a feeling in our hearts of satisfaction. We also couldn't help but think of returning home and of our first meals that we were craving!

This ends our blog from Kigali! Thank you for reading and living vicariously through us! Maybe next year YOU can be a part of the journey!

Previous Posts

Friday, June 21, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Thursday, June 20, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Monday, June 17, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Sunday, June 16, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Saturday, June 15, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Friday, June 14, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Thursday, June 13, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 [Click here to view post]

Monday, June 10, 2013 [Click here to view post]