September 13, 2012
By JMV SIKUBWABO (Issa)
Like all other teachers around the world, my desire is to be in classrooms with good teaching and learning atmosphere. All obstacles that students encounter in their learning process become the major burden and challenges for a teacher in the compliance of his/her duties and responsibilities.
It had happened to me, to many other teachers (or still happening to them), to feel disoriented in the teaching career because of these challenges; sometimes, one may think about resigning from that job! On the other hand, many students drop out of schools; lessons are meaningless for their life, etc. Or, the teacher’s mission is to make the lesson speak to their experience, tape into their talents and create a safe learning environment for the students to be in.
It is in that sense that I had opportunity to participate in the Freedom Writer Teachers International Institute in Long Beach- California, 3rd- 7th of August, 2012. It was a chance that may come once in life to learn from international expert teachers that through believing in the students, validating their knowledge, breaking the comfort zones, engaging them, enlightening them, empowering them and being empowered as a teacher, it is possible to guess both internal and external factors limiting the students ability to learn.
I personally, have been striving to organize the group discussions, debates, research projects, etc., in order to help my students explore the available resources around them, promote the reading and writing skills, the public speaking, engage them in the school activities. But still, the acquired skills had been other assets to enrich my teaching activities with other creative, supportive, and innovative programs that make the students feel that a school is their home!
A visit to the Museum Of Tolerance was a good opportunity to remember the big atrocities committed to innocent Jews as witnessed by Elisabeth; the survivor of that Holocaust. I also cherish a short time that was allocated to me; it allowed deploring the failure of the International Community to prevent these cruel killings having ravaged the lives of more than one million of innocent Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 in only a hundred days! While 46 years before (10/12/1948), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights committed to combat them will all means wherever in the world.
I had opportunity also to produce the real picture of Rwanda since many were misinformed that Rwanda is a country of insecurity, human rights abuse, ethnic discrimination, extreme poverty, etc. It’s true, the country passed through these painful challenges related to bad leadership that led to the genocide perpetrated against Tutsi in 1994, but, with enthusiasm and determination of Rwandans, we managed to restore security, good governance, political stability, respect of human rights, equitable justice, unity and reconciliation, and now Rwanda is a VISIONARY COUNTRY.
Some of the post-genocide effects are still faced; special thanks for Anne Heyman who believes that one drop of tears of youth is an ocean of tears for a parent. The Agahozo Shalom Youth Village that she founded is a remedy of these problems facing the youth, is a place where love, care, and the rhythm of life are restored.
The Freedom Writer Teachers were excited to hear about ASYV and Rwanda, and wished to have a closer connection. I cherish the good moments I spent with the lovely, inspired, careful, smiling, and hosting Freedom Writer Teachers in Long Beach. Inspired by their experience; especially that of Erin Gruwell (popularly known as Miss G.), I have started to help the lowest performing students to catch up, organize sessions to share these skills with my colleagues, interest the students to write their stories.
I wish I had enough time to present really how ASYV is a place of positive change; the success of the kids through different programs (tikkun olam, enrichment programs, extra- classes, individual evaluations, abolishing punishment, etc.), show how far they came and where they are now.
I am convinced that with the combination of my commitment, the ASYV team, and ASYV administration that engaged to make this village a place of improvement, the success in ASYV will no longer be an option, it will be a requirement.