For the past eight summers a group of upper school students have travelled to Rwanda and worked with Rwandan peers to set up summer programs for youngsters, ages 11-13, served by WE-ACTx and its Rwandan counterpart, WE-ACTx for Hope. Prior to departure, Latin in Rwanda team members raise 100% of the resources (over $12,000 annually) needed to run the summer programs. In Rwanda, Latin students assist the Rwandan youth leaders who sustain support programs throughout the year and the international artists and musicians who donate their time and talent to the WE-ACTx summer programs. Our students help organize and lead group activities, which emphasize sports, arts, music, and dance; and they plan and participate in service projects that benefit our partner organization.
Latin students will tell you that they've been transformed by people in Rwanda; and, in turn, the Rwandese have been changed by their interactions with our students. As one of the young Rwandans wrote to Latin last week, "Because of them I feel less an orphan than I have felt since I was 3. Today I have a family that reaches from Kigali to Chicago."
Here are some anecdotes from Latin students detailing their experience in Rwanda this summer:
"Latin in Rwanda is such a special experience for the mind, body, and soul of any open-minded and willing student. You are not in Rwanda for a service trip: you are there to see what a post-genocide nation is doing to recover socially, politically, and economically; you are there to learn about a highly successful and sought-after approach to holistic HIV/AIDs treatment; and you are there to sing, play, and dance with about 70 kids who will show you that it really does take only a few hours to love someone. Throughout the entire trip, we joked about how putting Rwanda into words was something that you couldn't do. Pictures and anecdotes help, but the two weeks reveal so much about humanity and our roles in the world that even those can't begin to explain the impact of a trip like Latin in Rwanda. I knew that I had left a piece of my heart in Rwanda when I saw the Rwanda posters in the Upper School for the first time, two weeks after returning, and I could feel how much my heart missed the warmth and love that transformed my life so quickly and so dramatically. I don't know how one repays someone (or a whole country) for that kind of life-experience." -- Anastasiya '18
"Coming into high school, I never thought I would find myself in Rwanda smothered with love from kids I had only known for a few hours--but I did last summer. After the first day of camp, I knew I needed to come back! I thought two weeks would be too short for me to form any type of attachment, but by day two my heart belonged to the campers. The love the kids give and the happiness in their eyes, It's amazing. My heart broke as they waved goodbye from the back of their bus this year. Rwanda is just something that has to be experienced. It's so hard to put everything into words. Rwanda has my heart forever." -- Maddy '18
"The Rwanda trip was one of the best experiences I've ever had, I feel at some point in everyone's life there should be an exposure experience as meaningful as mine was in Rwanda. Complete immersion in a culture so different than one's own can really open your eyes and change the way you see things... It emphasized the reality that as individuals we can always be more grateful for what we have and more giving to each other." -- Nick '19