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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Jocelyn Bowie
IU College of Arts and Sciences

Last modified: Monday, June 21, 2010

IU partnership personally delivering new books to a Rwandan school this week

June 21, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For the second year, an Indiana University delegation will travel to Rwanda to deliver original books as part of the Books & Beyond Project.

The collaborative service-learning project connects students in IU's Global Village Living-Learning Center, high school students in New Jersey, and African primary school pupils in Rwanda who collaborate on storytelling, writing and publishing new books.

Rwandan Reading

Rwandan students look through books distributed in 2009 by IU students from the Global Village Living-Learning Center.

Print-Quality Photo

This year's book, called The World is Our Home, Vol. 2, includes stories by the New Jersey and Rwandan students. The IU party will distribute the books at the Kabwende Primary Center located in Kinigi, Northern Province, on Thursday (June 24).

This is the second summer that an IU group will travel to Rwanda to meet the students and teachers in the Kabwende school, tour the country, and deliver armloads of books to the children. The Kabwende Primary Center is an impoverished school in need of books and other English language learning materials.

The books will be used to help students of varying ages. While designed as a children's book, The World is Our Home uses language at around three levels of English usage. "So some of the early ones are basically alphabet stories or very simple stories of just a few words on each page going up to kind of a low intermediate ESL level," said Beth Samuelson, assistant professor in the Department of Literacy, Culture and Language Education in the IU School of Education and faculty coordinator of the project.

Samuelson created a small curriculum for teachers using the first volume published last year. Samuelson, IU Global Village Living-Learning Center Assistant Director Lauren Calderera, an IU undergraduate student and an IU alumnus are traveling to Rwanda this week, along with a teacher from the New Jersey schools.

Students from the IU Global Village Living-Learning Center, a residence hall for students who are interested in learning about languages, cultures, and global issues, work with middle and high school students in the TEAM Schools, part of the KIPP Charter School network, in Newark, N.J.

"They mentor the charter school students and help them as they write a story and illustrate it," Samuelson said. "And then they also edit the book, lay it out and everything and plan it, and they have teams that do marketing and grant writing."

The TEAM students work directly with IU students who travel to New Jersey each winter. The students from Newark, where only 9 percent of the population has attended college, travel to Bloomington each fall to meet with their IU mentors and to see the IU campus.

Books & Beyond is the brainchild of IU alumna Nancy Uslan and has been enthusiastically seized upon by students and faculty alike. The program's goals are summed up in four simple words: "Read. Learn. Teach. Grow." Uslan became interested in starting an education project for Rwanda after seeing the country during a trip several years ago. She connected the TEAM Schools with Calderera. A few weeks ago, the project received a check in the amount of $25,400 from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, one of only 82 projects across the country to receive such funding, out of 1,100 that applied.

This year's volume of The World is Our Home contains 47 stories. The Rwandan and U.S. children have shared their experiences with conservation and protecting the earth. They have also written stories sharing their everyday lives with each other. Copies are available by making a $15 donation to the Global Village Living-Learning Center IU Foundation Fund. Click on the "Give Now" button at