Monday, June 18, 2012

Picture Pals

Nona Nina's class at The Child Care Center at Hort Woods at Penn State and Mr. Andrew's class at the Cyakabiri Preschool in Rwanda are "Picture Pals."

"It started with sharing a picture of Mr. Andrew's classroom in Rwanda with Nona Nina's children. The children were interested to find similarities and differences between their schools. They have a clock, an alphabet, a gathering rug, a bookcase, a world map and a picture of a spiral just like we do. Same, same but different!" ~~Nona Nina

Nona Nina then read "Same, Same but Different" about two boys who become "picture pals" although they live far away from each other. She decided to prepare artwork to send to their sister school in Rwanda. Each child drew a picture and had a photo attached to it with their name.

Nona Nina's class would then give them to Mr. Niyodusenga when he visits....their pictures, a copy of the book, a tablet and crayons just like the ones they used. He will take them back to Mr. Andrew's class and have them draw pictures and attach photos to their art. Carol Falke's team will bring them back to the US to Nona Nina's class.

Sharing also meant getting to know each other's names.

Mr. Andrew's class - Emmanuel, Nelly, Jean Marie, Orianne, Alscene, Angelique, Salmon, Callixte, Gisella, Jean Pierre, Foiba, Egide, Frasisko, Clevine, Chrisella, Martin, Aime.

Nona Nina's class - Caleb, Tayler, Elise, Adam, Larry, Khadijah, margaret, Dash, Lola, Taliesen, Aeshah, Addie, Ragga.

Little ones are reaching across the world in friendship.

*Mr. Andrew's Class outside.
*Games and class Photo
*Nona Nina sharing
*Picture Pal drawing and final project to send

Basket of Friendship

"Mr. Niyodusenga, administrator of the Cyakabiri (pronounced Cha-ka-bidi) school in Rwanda visited our classroom today. We have been preparing for his visit for a long time. Mr. Niyodusenga gave us a beautiful basket with a lid. Along with the basket he had a lesson to share. The basket, he said, represents sharing, saving and solidarity. The children were able to give examples of sharing and saving, we will have to learn more about the word "solidarity". Mr. Niyodusenga knows four languages, so we sang our "Hello" song to him in English, Kinyarwanda, French and Swahili. He sang "Thank you" back to us in Kinyarwanda, "murakoze." ~~Nona Nina's Newsletter

Vincent participated in several activities during his visit. He joined them as they gathered for the opening of their day with sharing. Then there was math, reading, play, art, water science/play and outside play.

Learning about styles of classroom management and small group activities was his focus. After spending time observing the children and watching Nona Nina's interactions he knew there were many things he could share with the teachers in Rwanda. Water is play and water is science....for these projects he would return to Rwanda with turkey basters (his first time using them), a colander, funnels and more. Plastic tubing would come later with a team.

This partnership being formed is about teachers mentoring teachers in Rwanda. Nona Nina was a perfect teacher to work with as she has been an early childhood educator since 1974 and has a Montessori teaching certificate. She has taught workshops for other teachers in the areas of creative dramatics, anti-bias curriculum, conflict resolution and environmental education. We are thrilled she is a part of the Urukundo Learning Center through class to class partnerships.

Linda Duerr, Director of Education and Instruction at the center is also a key partner with us. She made sure Vincent had plastic smocks to take back and is facilitating connections with an art teacher, departments coordinating student internships and the Penn State Student Education Association.

All these partnerships are built on the importance of education throughout the world.

*Vincent and Nina with water play.
*Vincent receiving smocks from Linda before the class goes out to play.
*Vincent, Nina and class singing "Hello" song.
*Vincent sharing the basket.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kids to Kids

Learning to share across the world....

Miriam Powell, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Pink Zone and a member of Mothers & More in State College sent me an email this spring after learning about my work in Rwanda. She shared, "As a former world cultures teacher, I spent quite a bit of time teaching my students about the civil war in Rwanda and discussing the lasting effects it had on modern African nations." She asked, "What is the name of the children's home and what are their ages and circumstances? And how does someone get involved with helping?"

She enthusiastically shared my story with moms and kids in Mothers & More. There's no slowing her down. You know what I mean if you ever met her! She thought the moms and kids would be thrilled to gather educational toys, games and books for me to take in August. And that's just what they did.

I had goosebumps and a lump in my throat when I saw what they many beautiful, colorful toys that will be very loved by the children at the Urukundo Home and Cyakabiri Preschool.

Duplo Legos, baby toys, cars and trucks, games, puzzles, wonderful books for all ages, a snuggly stuffed rabbit and more!

Mothers & More is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of mothers through support, education and advocacy. Part of their mission is being involved in community service. Most has been local but they were looking forward to doing something global.

Thank you moms and kids.

*Mothers & their sweet kids and all they collected.
*Miriam & her boys made a difference.
*Miriam and Michael finding Rwanda.
*Michael and Joseph loading my car.