Virginia Croskery, a professor of music at Simpson College in Iowa, began planning a service learning trip to Rwanda last year. After 10 interested students signed up, Virginia encouraged them to reach out to their community to raise money and gather donated supplies. The group of participants fulfilled Virginia’s request by receiving a check for $1500 plus transporting bags full of supplies to AoC Office in Musanze Town, Rwanda. Truly, I can hardly express how happy my team and I are by their efforts.
I was told the volunteers would not hesitate to get busy where ever they were needed, so our first day was to our regularly scheduled class at Rushubi School. We are quickly approaching Rwanda’s Annual Gorilla Naming ceremony, Kwita Izina, in which our students will perform in the community party called Igitaramo. Well, we haven’t really started to prepare for this important event and capitalizing on Virginia’s expertise in world music and diction, our focus nows turns toward the songs that they will sing and perform and which are full of conservation messages.
Virginia with Rushubi students.
Our 100 Rushubi students will perform In Virunga / My Birunga – a song composed and recorded by AoC friends Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel. (Click here for more Kaiser Cartel.) This song has two versions, one in English and one in Kinyarwanda.
Simpson College volunteers, Arron and Anna, help children discover their voices and encourage them to make new sounds.
For many years now, AoC students have been learning Courtney and Benjamin’s songs and as a result have been teaching them to their brothers and sisters, as well. With this 2011 group of kids, they definitely have the Kinyarwanda version down fine…. it’s the English version we are working on today.
Children feel the air after Virginia asks them to strongly accentuate and exaggerate their t’s and b’s and p’s and so on.
In spoken Rwandan language, Kinyarwanda, the l’s and r’s are often difficult to transfer to English speaking. We practice a lot on pronouncing words like we’re.
With In Virunga / Mu Birunga lyrics in their notebooks and lots of encouragement to open their mouths wide, kids are open to experimentation.
We all admitted to feeling wiped out and nearly unable to speak after 3 hours of singing.
Valerie with Simpson volunteers Emily and Angela at Rushubi Primary School.
I hope you can see that we had a dynamic class and again, thank you very much to Virginia and her amazing group of volunteers. More about their contributions to AoC coming up!