Western’s Rwanda Course: Experiential Learning in the Land of A Thousand Hills

Western’s Rwanda Course: Experiential Learning in the Land of A Thousand Hills

Satellite Project Space, 121 Dundas St.

Rwanda: Culture, Society, and Reconstruction is an Interdisciplinary Experiential Learning course offered by the Department of French Studies and The School of Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities (SASAH). In celebration of ten years of Community Engaged Learning in Rwanda, The Land of A Thousand Hills, as it is commonly known, this exhibition of photography, video and art recognizes an important program that has positively affected many lives over many years. A visually rich project that showcases the amazing work that Western students have committed to learning abroad, the show emphasizes the importance of first-hand experience in Rwanda through participation in community-based partnership programs, and the building of true relationships with Rwandan partners. As well, the exhibition draws attention to the support the Rwanda course has enjoyed from so many different entities and colleagues at Western, particularly within the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, and beyond.

Arts & Humanities at Western is thrilled to be presenting an exhibition that draws on the work of former students of the Rwanda course, many who have enthusiastically culled through photographs, selected from videos, and arranged to borrow artworks from students, in order to bring a groundbreaking program to life for viewers in London.

Due to current Ontario COVID restrictions, this exhibition and its programming will be entirely online.

Please join us to meet Rwanda Course Founder and Instructor, Prof. Henri Boyi. on Wednesday and Thursday at 4:00 p.m. during the first week of January. Speaking from Satellite Gallery, Henri will introduce the Exhibition and screen a video of commentaries by a range of students and other participants in the Rwanda program!

Wed. Jan. 6, 4:00 p.m. 
Topic: Rwanda Exhibition – 4:00 p.m. with Henri Boyi (1)
Join Zoom Meeting: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/j/96246669062
Password: 123456

Thurs. Jan. 7, 4:00 p.m. 
Topic: Rwanda Exhibition: 4:00 p.m. with Henri Boyi (2)
Join Zoom Meeting: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/j/96773300182
Password: 123456

Feature Event!
Please join us to tour the exhibition, and to hear from a panel of students and faculty who have participated in the Rwanda program, along with Prof. Henri Boyi. The panel will be hosted by Prof. Patrick Mahon of Western’s SASAH Program.The event will be followed by a Q&A, and the exhibition publication will be launched. Don’t miss it!

Jan 14, 7:00 p.m.
Topic: Rwanda Exhibition Feature Event & Panel Discussion
Join Zoom Meeting: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/j/98545329335
Password: 123456

Words from the Course Founder and Professor – Henri Boyi, Western University

Welcome to Western’s Rwanda Experiential Learning Course Exhibition! Join us in celebrating 10 years of the UWO Ubuntu Experiential Learning Journey in the Land of a Thousand Hills.

When the course began in 2009, I had no idea how exceptionally successful and life-changing it would be, and continues to be to this day. My passion for giving back to the community and helping others combined with my enthusiasm for being able to give the best possible academic experience to my students has culminated in the development of this signature course on and in Rwanda. This Community Service-Learning course, Rwanda: Culture, Society, and Reconstruction, was initially solely based in the Department of French Studies at Western University, and was later on cross-listed with the School of Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities (SASAH).

This Interdisciplinary Experiential Learning course intends to give opportunities to Western students from a variety of educational backgrounds, to learn about Community Engaged Learning and many other related topics, such as the values of liberal education, intercultural competence, cross-cultural communication, Ubuntu, leadership, global citizenship, and the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis to name a few. Over a period of 10 years, 101 Western students have participated in and successfully completed this program. The key to success for this course is the preparation that students receive throughout the entire winter term on the above topics. This assists them for the 5 to 6 weeks of hands-on experience and service at a variety of local NGOs based in Rwanda, mainly in the capital city of Kigali.

Partners have expressed their wholehearted gratitude towards Western students. Nicolette Nsabimana, Director of Centre Marembo, in Rwanda, put it in the following words: “All members of this group are very hardworking young people with passion and compassion; they are very committed team players and admirable polite persons. This group is sincerely unique. They came for community service learning but they taught more than we could ever expect.”

Throughout the years, our main partners have been the National University of Rwanda, Kigali Health Institute (KHI), the College of Medicine and Health Science, Hope Village Orphanage, Centre Marembo, Gisimba Orphanage and Nursery School, Les Enfants de Dieu, Caritas – Kigali, and Aspire Rwanda. Suffice to say, we could have never hoped for better partners. They’ve helped create an environment which enabled my students to receive what they themselves have described as the best learning opportunity and experience.

Colleagues, students, and partners have all witnessed and experienced the high measure of success of this course. Western’s own Professor Marianne Larsen, who is well-researched in International Service Learning, says the following: “I continue to be impressed and struck by the work you have done with this course and the positive impact it has had on your students. You truly represent to me the best of what internationalization at this university is about.”

My vision for this course has always been motivated by the African philosophical and ethical concept of Ubuntu, which means I am because you are, or, put simply, humanity to others. If I learned one thing through teaching this Experiential Learning Course, it is that the greatest value of our lives can only be measured by our fully and ethically engaged service to other human beings. This is the best gift Western University has given me in my professional career. I am extremely grateful for being able to teach this course and having the chance to work with the best partners and to guide the most exceptional students.

Thank you to our amazing sponsors as this gallery event would not have been possible without their generous support. Namely the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Western International, the Department of French Studies, the School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities, The Africa Institute, Arts and Humanities Post-Colonial Group, and Health Equity Interdisciplinary Development Initiative.

I am unable to express in words the immense gratitude I have for all of my students who have participated in the Rwanda course. Thank you to all the students who showed such highly dedicated involvement into the preparation of this exhibition, through the unfailing guidance of Misha Apel (Western Law School). This exhibition would not have taken place without the outstanding professionalism and generosity of my dear friend and colleague, Distinguished University Professor Patrick Mahon. Thank you everyone and Happy New Year 2021!

This exhibition showcases stories from Rwanda through the artwork, paintings, and photographs from those who took part in the Rwanda course program over the years. The exhibition is divided into the following categories:
– Rwandan Artwork
– The 1994 Genocide of Tutsis
– Students Travelling Throughout the Years
– Exploring the Beauty of Rwanda
– Western Students in Action
– Global Leadership and Partnership
– Celebrating Graduation in Rwanda
– Student Videos and Testimonials

Coordinators: Prof. Henri Boyi, and Prof. Patrick Mahon, Western
Gallery Coordinator: Shannon Taylor-Jones
Special thanks to: Sean Cousins, Misha Apel, Jasmine Wu, Tasmin Alam, Zareen Cherian, Katie Butler, Eva Maria Chang, and Orietta Akimana.

For a video exhibition tour, click here.
For a video of course testimonials, click here.