Cornell University

International Programs

117 Ives Hall, 607-254-7255


April 2 2009

Please, Will you Support the Cornell Rwanda Service Learning Trip?

We are seven Cornell students traveling to Kigali, Rwanda, this summer on a global service learning project being coordinated by the Cornell Public Service Center. Our ability to participate in this amazing learning experience hinges solely on our ability to pay for the trip. We need and appreciate any help you can give.

Sam, Paletta, JasonThe Cornell Public Service Center is partnering with Stephen Paletta, Cornell Alumni, social entrepreneur and winner of the television hit, Oprah's Big Give, to create a service-learning trip of a lifetime to Rwanda.

We will travel to Rwanda in June 2009 and spend three weeks working with Paletta's non-profit organization, the International Education Exchange.

Why Rwanda? Why Now?

In February 2004, Cornell alumnus Stephen Paletta (Eng '87) visited Rwanda for the first time. He was moved by the beauty of the country but overwhelmed by the plight of its people. Rwanda, just 10 years after the horror of the genocide that killed nearly 1 million people in 100 days, was just starting to get itself back on solid ground. Many needs were not being met. One that stood out for Stephen was the devastated education system. Over the next several years he co-founded the International Education Exchange and has dedicated himself to helping rebuild Rwanda's educational infrastructure and, this year. Stephen has invited fellow Cornellians to join him! For us, it would be a privilege to volunteer alongside Rwandan educators, students, and community members.

What will we do in Rwanda?

Our focus will be on educational development and green energy. We will be installing low cost solar power units that will positively many facets of life (education, health, medical access, jobs, etc. We will also volunteer in the classroom assisting with vocational training and with teachers preparing English language curricula as the country switches to English as its national language. Each of these projects create a real-world opportunity to apply our Cornell education and, we hope, build a sustainable service-learning program that future Cornell students will be invited to build upon.

How are we preparing for this experience?

kit1Intensive planning and orientation sessions! We meet twice a week to study Rwanda's political and social environment, and to learn about working together on a service-learning project. Readings, group discussions, written critiques of articles, and planning take place in-and-outside the classroom. We are also each responsible for the logistics, compliance with Cornell's office of risk management, and (perhaps most daunting!) fundraising. In an effort to find the necessary financial support we have already presented at MILR Culture Night on March 31, 2009. We greatly appreciate your help!!!

Please make your donation to: rwanda_map
Rwanda Service Learning Project 2009,
ILR International Programs,
309 Ives Hall, Cornell University,
Ithaca, NY, 14850

or contact Robin Remick at or 607-254-2950

kit2What do we hope to take away from this experience?

It's a little different for each of us. One thing we have in common is the hope that we will heighten our awareness and understanding of a country and its people that were devastated by horrifying social upheaval and, to the extent possible, contribute to its rebuilding through education. To find out a bit more about each of us please click here.

Reflection and Documenting

We will document our trip through the use of journals, blogs, short stories, video clips, and online photo galleries. As follow-up, Professor Weiss will lead a two credit seminar in Fall '09 where we will reflect on our experiences and discuss lessons learned not only for ourselves but for future Cornell students wishing to participate next time.