Books & Beyond is a cross-cultural literacy exchange for students and teachers from Indiana University’s Global Village Living-Learning Center (Bloomington, IN), TEAM Schools (Newark, NJ), and the Kabwende Primary Center (KPC) (Kinigi, Rwanda). The project focuses on developing models for cross-cultural teaching and learning. Books and Beyond also seeks to foster global citizenship by promoting communication and understanding amongst students from diverse backgrounds in the United States and Rwanda.
College students at Indiana University are paired with students from TEAM schools, and the writing partners work together to author and illustrate childrens stories. At the same time, students at the Kabwende Primary Center write and illustrate their own stories. The US and Rwandan stories are centered around a specific theme each year.
Students from the Global Village work to raise money over the course of the year for the publishing of the books. Once complete, the books are delivered to the Kabwende Primary Center, where they are used as supplementary English language learning materials, helping to combat the Rwandan book famine, support cross-cultural collaboration, encourage mentoring activities among students of different ages, and provide resources for teachers to teach more effectively.
At its core, Books and Beyond is multi-faceted, providing educational opportunities for students and teachers alike:
· The World is Our Home anthology uses mentoring to teach skills in authoring, illustrating, editing, publishing, and marketing a yearly collection of stories written by students in Rwanda and the United States.
· Teacher Development Training provides curriculum training for teachers at the Kabwende Primary Center to use The World is Our Home anthology as a textbook to foster critical literacy in the classroom.
· College-Life Mentoring matches students at TEAM Schools with a college student mentor from Indiana University. The mentors work with students to facilitate the writing process and encourage students to pursue higher education
· The Pen Pal Program matches Indiana University students with teacher from the Kabwende Primary Center in a cross-cultural writing exchange.
· International Cross-Cultural Exchange brings students from the US and Rwanda to visit each other and share their cultures.
· Professional Skill-Building teaches skills in grant-writing, fund-raising, video documenting, evaluating, public relations, and interviewing
About the Partners
TEAM Schools are part of a growing network of KIPP Charter Schools that offer free college preparatory education to students of Newark, New Jersey. Students attend school 6 days a week, from 7:25-5:00 pm Monday-Friday, and for 4 hours on Saturdays. In an area where only 9% of adults have received education beyond high school, TEAM is dedicated to the ideal that every child in Newark can succeed in college and go on to change the world. With only 20% of current Newark residents receiving a higher education, these students face challenges in this pursuit of education, but learn that by following the motto “Work Hard, Be Nice” they can beat the odds and aspire to be something greater.
Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, is home to the Global Village Living-Learning Center, a residence hall with 170 students. The Global Village’s mission is to expand students’ knowledge of world affairs, foreign languages, and cultures, while also preparing students for overseas study. With the help of dedicated staff members and the support of the College of Arts and Sciences, the GV provides opportunities for students to learn and grow, preparing themselves for global living in the 21st Century. Global Village students participate in the project as writing partners, public relations team members, collaborators, fundraisers, evaluators, documenters, and pen pals.
Kabwende Primary Center Located in Kinigi, Rwanda, in the Ruhengeri Province, the Kabwende Primary Center serves approximately 2000 students ages 5-17 years old with 30 Kabwende students contributing to the project. Students attend school for half days and study French, English, Reading, and Math with the hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their families. Prior to the beginning of the project, there was 1 textbook for every 4 students at Kabwende. The Books & Beyond project is changing this, putting a textbook in each child’s hands. Even without electricity, these students are determined to learn. Studying French, English, reading, and math, they hope that with their education, they might create a better life for themselves and their families.
Accomplishments to Date
Over the past three years, the Books & Beyond project has:
· Expanded to impact the lives of over 2100 students
· Generated three complete anthologies of stories, with the fourth anthology in progress this year
·Delivered over 6,000 books to the Kabwende Primary Center in Rwanda, helping to combat the book famine by putting a book in each child's hands
· Provided over 45 Newark students with access to a 1 on 1 college mentoring experience
·Raised funds through grant writing and presentations to support annual fall and spring trips for students to Bloomington, IN, and Newark, NJ
·Presented at 4 conferences for education, diversity, and research
·Secured English training in Kinigi, Rwanda for Kabwende’s teachers
·Developed 18 short videos to tell the story of the project and its volunteers while developing participants’ documenting skills
·Engaged 11 Americorps Service-Engagement Corps members in service to the project
·Given students a wide range of opportunities for service, resulting in US students dedicating over 5,000 hours of community service through the project