Rwanda 2015: The Journey

This space is for students to share, publicly, their observations, sound, images and reflections before, during and after the Harwood High School travel study to Rwanda in February 2015.

Welcome to 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Rwanda Journey site. Young Writers Project  will once again manage this site for participants and readers/commenters before, during and after the voyage. 

YWP asks that students:

  1. UPDATE  your account with your REAL email addresses  so we can keep in touch with you during the journey.
  2.  COLLABORATE with Young Writers Project so that we can share some of your pieces with a larger audience on, local newspapers and our digital magazine, As some of you know, this wider audience can be extremely powerful. Please let me know if you'd lie to do that with us. Email me at or call at 802-324-9537.

We happen to think that many of the pieces that you will write will be fascinating to a wider audience and, again, we'd encourage you to connect with us so we can publish some of that material.


Geoff Gevalt

Safari, A Teacher At Good Samaritan

This is an interview between students of Harwood Union HS, and a teacher at The Good Samaritan Nursery School, in Kigali Rwanda. Sam Parker and I worked on this while we were in Rwanda, and also finished it up back here in our Digital Storytellying class. Safari was an amazing person, I'm so glad I got to meet him and get to know him. This interview along with the other Good Samaritan videos will be used in a colaborative video about the whole school. We're super excited to start working on it, and hopefully the video will be used for fundraising for the school!


(I forgot to post this a while back, sorry!)


I've never before been


so it's interesting to see the stares.


I've never had people look at me

solely because of my skin.


Its odd being new.


People slow down their cars

if we're walking on the street 

so they can get a better look.


People laugh with excitement,

and gather in crowds

and point us out to their friends.


It's odd being new.


Children stand in clusters

More Than Just a Charity Case

Ever since I was little, I've had the mental image of Africa as a crying little child, sitting naked in a dusty street, their stomach enlarged with hunger. As I've gotten older, a lion and a giradde have ben added into the background, and maybe another child or two. Up until just a few weeks ago, even though I knew that this wasn't all there was, this was Africa.

When I traveled to Rwanda this past month, I was amazed by the color and vibrance I saw around me. Even as the plane landed, the landscape was sparkling with the metal roofs dotting the leafy greenery of the hillside. The people were what really amazed me, however. I became captivated with how their serious faces could crinkle up into the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen in. From the more well-off children in their school uniforms to the old women in the countrysides to people of all ages balancing unimaginable loads on their heads, these people completely shattered the mental stereotype that I had.

Interview With A Former Good Samaritan Student, Elizabeth Chancey (Rough Cut)

Izzy and I created this media project about a former student from The Good Samaritan School. She talks about the greatness of the school, how it affected her life and made her childood one to remember. She also talks about the leader of the school, Teddy, and how she is a leader who deserves to be recoginized. 

Interview With Teddy, Director of The Good Samaritan School

During the first few days of our adventure in Africa I was given the opportunity to sit down with Teddy and a small group and conduct a very comprehensive interview. During the remainder of the trip I narrowed down the forty minute interview into something which could be used in a general video about the Good Samaritan Nursery School. Here is that video, an updated version of the school's beginnings and Teddy's dream for the future. 

Greetings Across Cultures

Rarely do we give enough credit to the upturn of lips we call a smile, the waggling of our fingers we call a wave. The people of Rwanda to a casual visitors eye would doubtless appear reserved at first. Few of the people here are shy with their stares and pointing, which unsurprisingly is intimidating at first. Staring down a Rwandan is not a feat I would suggest attempting, you will lose. Yet the more time I spend here the more I realize that it is uncommon to meet a Rwandan who’s cool exterior cannot be thawed with a friendly twitch of the fingers in their direction or a warm, unreserved smile. In fact here in this seemingly endlessly beautiful country, your smile is likely to earn you much more than a smile from the Rwandan at whom you directed it, you will almost certainly receive smiles and waves from every person who saw yours. Rwandan smiles are the most beautiful I have ever seen.

Interview With Emmanuel (Rough Cut)

Sam Nishi and I put together this video about Emmanuel, an orphan and one of the students that the Hard Workers Cooperative supports. Hard Workers uses part of its proceeds from the sale of clean water to pay for Emmanuel's school fees. Emmanuel's mother was a member of the Hard Workers before she passed away about a few years ago. The Hard Workers are like parents to Emmanuel, and he holds them close to his heart. 

Interview of Seraphine, Hard Workers Cooperative Founder (Rough Cut)

Martha and I worked on creating this video interview of Seraphine, the Hard Worker's founder. She became inspired to start this water project because of the water scarcity in her village, as well as the long walk she would have to take each morning to simply retrieve her water for the day. Her journey is one that was filled with obstacles and sacrifices, but her perseverance and confidence has made her dreams come true. 

Well Time-lapse: Typical Walk From An Old Well

This time-lapse film represents a typical walk from an old well used by people living in nearby villages before Hard Workers Cooperative began providing various clean water sites throughout local villages.


A Scenic Drive

There have been many hours spent on the bus this trip. Whether we were driving to the Lodge, or the Jesuit Center, I have had a lot of time to watch. It gets boring trying to beat the level of candy crush that I was on, or listening to the same Beyonce album on repeat. So there were more times than not where I would find myself simply looking out the window. I would often forget that I was even in Africa, because of the lush, green, rolling hills that surrounded the deep valleys. My pre-conceived ideas of what Africa is supposed to “look” like were completely shattered. It wasn’t scorching hot, nor were we driving through vast deserts of sandy hills. Rwanda looks more like Vermont than I had imagined.


Going Home

I’m excited to go home today.

Not really today,

it’s just airplanes this evening for me.

But still, the sentiment is there.

I am ready to get home and hug my parents

and see all my friends and tackle my sister

and hold hands with people I know.

I am ready to return to the “real world.”


I’m not excited to go home today.

Not really today,

I’m only on airplanes and in airports this evening.

But still, it’s not really HERE.

I don’t want to leave the smiling faces

and the welcoming arms

and the honorary sisterships.

I don’t want to leave these stories.


I am excited to go home today.

I want to cuddle my cat

and snuggle my dog

and curl up in a pile with friends.


I’m not excited to go home today.

Going away from the bartering

and the shouts of muzungu

and wonderful weather makes me sad.


I’m so ready to go home,

and I’m not ready at all.

Thoughts on Marambi Genocide Site

Bodies to faces

Faces to souls

Souls to stories

What could you have become?


Eyes so kind

And a smile so welcoming

How do you move on

With all you have seen?

2 for 5

This afternoon, on our drive back from the beautiful Lake Kivu, we stopped and picnicked on the top of a mountain overlooking two twin lakes on one side, and a fantastivc view of a volcano on the other side. After lunch, we walked down the hillside into a small village to get a better view of the lakes, and we were immediately swarmed by a cluster of young children, running up to us, introducing themselves, and holding our hands. One little girl who was also holding Zoe's hand, grabbed hold of mine. I smlied and said Hello, and we started walking, saying  words we both understood, bridging our language gap, little by little. As we were walking, I suddenly became aware that she only had one shoe, a flimsy green sandal that was falling apart. I looked down at my flip flops, I had bought them at Old Navy, $5 for 2 pairs; I buy about 4 pairs a summer, like it's nothing. I looked at my shoes, and without thinking at all, I took one off and gave it to her.

Smack Into Culture

Last night I was talking to some of my fellow Rwanda travelers about our homestays last week.  I started smiling when I remembered the first night there when Martha and I stood in the narrow ally next to our homestay’s apartment while brushing our teeth.  A young boy, who we now know is named Patrick, casually walked around the corner, looked up, saw our pale complexions in the dark, and yelled “Muzungu”.  He then turned the other direction, tripped, bumped into a wall, and ran out of sight.  Things are a little different here in Rwanda.

Les Enfants de Dieu

Over the past few days in Butare we have begun to work on our media projects.  I am presently working on creating video portraits for some incredible boys whom we met when visiting Les Enfants de Dieu.  First let me explain why I chose to concentrate on this specific media project. 


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