We were very impressed this morning when the Rwandan students left breakfast early to prepare for their cultural session. When we arrived in the University building, they had all brought “mishanana” – traditional ceremonial Rwandan dress with bright beautiful patterns. We all got to try these on, and then listen to an amazing presentation they had prepared on Rwandan culture. We learned that you are supposed to drink milk with two hands, that it’s rude to eat in public, and that cows are very highly regarded – even the old airport building design used to imitate cow’s horns, and the traditional dancing!
We then got to hear what workshop ideas the students had come up with – all the high-school graduates had their leaving ceremony today so we had a smaller group, but all the proposed ideas were really interesting! Some examples include:
Architecture: teaching children how to turn drawings into models and following the design process; also how to make architecture harmonious with the environment, as opposed to making the environment fit with the architecture.
Solving Rwandan problems: water distribution with smart machines, electricity shortages with high-capacity generators and renewable sources, contactless payments for mototaxi transport
Efficiency with waste: making tea with avocado leaves; harvesting CO2 from agriculture for fuel
Bridge Construction: building bridge designs with small sticks to show how loading forces are determined by structure
Afterwards over lunch we discussed how to turn these workshop ideas into real activities, potentially trying to make each activity shorter to allow us to run a more “science fair”-type event. This would help us to cover more topics with each school group, and make the set-up of the day less like a typical classroom.
Saturday will be spent working on our school itinerary and mapping out locations to allow us to co-ordinate our visits, and on Sunday we plan to visit the National Museum of Rwanda. On Monday, the real hard work begins – nailing down our final workshops and practising them enough in order to deliver them to hundreds of children over the next three weeks!