January 8, 2015
On January 8th, Agahozo-Shalom celebrated the special graduation of 122 students in the Indatwa grade, the third class to graduate from the Village. At ASYV, the students select a name depicting their class spirit during the first year. Indatwa is a Kinyarwanda word that most closely resembles the term role model in English, or “people with a good attitude and high achievements whom you can learn from." The graduating class definitely exemplifies Indatwa through their academic excellence and profound leadership.
While all seven Core Values of the Village guided this class, they adopted “commitment” as their primary motto. They have shown their high level of commitment everyday in school and in their enrichment programs, but especially with the success of two huge projects that they undertook. On their own volition, the students of Indatwa grade worked together to build a sturdy home for an elderly widow living near the Village. Everyone at ASYV participates in Tikkun Olam, meaning, “to repair the world," in which the students volunteer on a weekly basis. However, the graduating class went above and beyond their commitment to helping those less fortunate by literally building a house. These students also constructed a Core Values billboard by the main gate of the Village, which serves as a reminder not only of the importance of Core Values, but also of the impact that Indatwa grade had on Agahozo-Shalom.
During the ceremony, the graduates performed a play titled, “Don’t Thank Me, Pay It Forward,” inspired by the words and actions of Agahozo-Shalom’s founder Anne Heyman. 920 people came to support the Indatwa grade during the graduation event, including members of Anne Heyman’s family and members of the New York staff. Board Chair Laurie Toll Franz encouraged the students to face everything with the 4 C’s: Curiosity, Compassion, Courage, and, of course, Commitment. The ceremony ended with emboldening words from a representative of the Ministry of Education,
"You've been taught to see challenges as opportunities at ASYV ... Go ahead and transform your country and the world.”
Submitted by Shelby Sullivan, 2015 Village Fellow