In yesterday’s post, Anneka shared our excitement about starting our work at The Kigali Institute of Education (KIE). The campus is not very far from us, and after our 20 minute walk this morning, we were greeted with sprawling green lawns and students headed into various classrooms and buildings. Stephen Buckingham, the drama teacher at KIE, escorted us into a boardroom and shared some of his experiences of living in both Rwanda and Kenya with us. We were soon joined by Carole Karemera, a Rwandese artist (she, along with Mr. Buckingham, was in the movie Sometimes in April) who runs Ishyo, a cultural center and performance space here in Rwanda. She talked to us about the work that she does in her center and around the world. Much of it pertained to the work we do in applied theatre, and we were eager to learn more about it. Later, Dr. Shirley Randall, the director of the Culture, Gender, and Development department at KIE spoke with us. She is in the process of launching the first Masters program within the department, and we were pleased to hear about this new opportunity for the Rwandan community.
After our morning of learning about the different artistic developments going on in Rwanda, we finally had the opportunity to meet with the students! Chris and Helen lead a short introductory session filled with opportunities to learn about each other, and we all began to share our reasons for doing drama. We discovered that sharing culture was a large reason for all of the participants to engage in drama, and our afternoon sessions explored this in more depth.
After lunch, we eagerly headed to our classrooms to begin the workshops. Jennifer, Piper, Lexy and Jason led one group in an Introduction to Dramatic Conventions session, while Liz, Sherry, Ria, and I led a session on Theatre-in-Education. Both workshops use theatrical and educational techniques to explore different themes and topics. Our main goal was to not only share the techniques, but also to talk about ways these students (who are training to be teachers) could reincorporate what they saw us do in their own classrooms. Both sessions (like much of our work) rely heavily on participation, and while the culture of Rwanda is very different than that of our own in the United States, we managed to make cultural and educational connections that continue to reinforce the belief that arts in education can do incredible things.
Our collective experience of the day has been that of intense joy, continual growth, and a further understanding of how important this work is.