William Woods University will host a program about the Rwanda Community Partnership Project at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 13) in the Burton Business Building, Room 100.
Nancy McCue, a WWU alumna, will talk about her experiences in Rwanda and about the project. It will be an informational session, with the opportunity for students and community members to stay after the program and brainstorm ways they can get involved.
WWU has joined forces with the City of Fulton and Westminster College in “partnering” with Kibungo Town/Ngoma District in Rwanda. The project affords great benefits to both communities, offering opportunities for education, travel, service learning projects and class interactions between William Woods and the college in Kibungo.
The partnering began last summer when Fulton Mayor Charles Latham and Callaway County Commissioners Lee Fritz, Gabe Craighead and Doc Kritzer invited Mayor Francois Niyotwagira of Kibungo to become their partner community, and he accepted enthusiastically.
Cassie Davis, WWU academic service learning coordinator, is a member of both the Rwanda Community Partnership Project Executive Committee and the Westminster/William Woods Co-Collegiate Rwanda Project Committee. She explained that this event is designed to promote awareness of the partnership as a whole.
“We hope that as students hear of the needs Kibungo has and the opportunities our partnership with Kibungo affords, there will be a well-spring of interest and involvement in this project–in getting the word out to the community, in raising money for the clinic and in the partnership with Kibungo as a whole.”
As the partnership between the communities grows, the potential for class interactions between WWU and college students in Kibungo will grow, as well: service-learning projects and study abroad are just two of the ways students might be able to get involved.
“Rwanda has several Deaf schools, which might also afford us opportunities…to study sign language from an international perspective. Business students could explore ways, along with the students in Kibungo, to better the economy in Kibungo/Rwanda,” Davis said.
“Unlike here in the U.S., college students in Rwanda don’t ‘look for jobs’ so much as they look for ways to better the world they are in,” she said. “There aren’t jobs waiting for Rwandan students when they get out of school—rather they are encouraged to make opportunities for themselves that will benefit their town/city/country as well.”
In the future, Davis hopes to spend more time raising money for a women’s and children’s clinic in the Kibungo community. The goal is to raise at least $5,000 by the end of the academic year.
“We are also trying to create parallel tracks to fund raising for the clinic, in that classes could incorporate studying Kibungo/Rwanda in their studies,” said Davis. “Classes could do service-learning projects benefiting this partnership, and students, faculty and staff could raise money to donate goats to poor Rwandan families.”
She added, “There are so many ways that this project could take flight! While the clinic is a primary focus, the committee is very interested in simply getting people involved in this partnership in any way that appeals to them.”
According to Davis, this is a great project for student involvement.
“Our mission statement identifies us as ‘a student-centered and professions-oriented university committed to the values of ethics, self-liberation, and lifelong education of students in the world community.’ This is definitely a way to educate our students in the world community, as well as the local community simultaneously. How many universities or students can say they are partnering with a community half a world away?”