Study Abroad in Kigali, Rwanda
UAP 3984: Sport, Policy, & Society

UAP 3984: Sport Policy and Society is an immersive study abroad course that explores different sectors of international development and how sports can support such development. The course offers authentic and real-world engagement with multiple organizations, providing students the opportunity for personal reflection and transformative learning. This course has traveled to the Dominican Republic and Switzerland over the last five years.

This year, the course will embark on a new location – Kigali, Rwanda. Located in Central Africa, 12 students and 4 faculty members will travel to Rwanda for roughly 14 days. While immersed in the Rwandan culture, students will learn not only in a classroom setting, but will visit multiple organizations that support international development, many of which use sport as a tool for development. Some of these organizations will be the Rwanda National Olympic Committee, Grassroots Soccer, Right to Play, and several more. Students’ academic focuses range from mechanical engineering to communication studies to biosciences, but regardless of discipline or career aspiration, every student will carry invaluable lessons home from Rwanda to support them through their careers as Hokies as well as in their future beyond Virginia Tech.


May 26, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

Our last day in Rwanda was quite bittersweet. It was a day full of smiling faces but also some hard goodbyes, especially to the resilient and kind people of Rwanda. To prepare for the coming Field Day at KICS, all of us students met the previous night to organize our plan. We split Field Day into six activities: soccer, football, basketball/dodge ball, sharks and minos, relay races, and ultimate frisbee. After splitting ourselves into our respective activities and breaking down the two and a half hours, we felt confident in our Field Day plan. ... Read More

May 25, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

We are quite the spectacle, a group of 15 people juggling a mix of footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls, laughing and talking about the P.E. class that awaits us as we walk to KICS. We continue to walk into the KICS P.E. space, now familiar with the concrete court that is set in the middle of the school’s courtyard. Each group set up with a large collection of cones, and even made time for a couple games of knock-out. ... Read More

May 24, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

Today we completed our second day of PE class at KICS. We taught basketball, fútbol, and American football to kindergarten and second grade, totaling 29 students. We quickly ate lunch provided by KICS and returned to the hotel to get ready to leave for the NOC, Rwanda’s National Olympic Committee. Our first sight of the area was their large fútbol stadium highlighting their country’s colors of bright blue, green and yellow. We met with two women on staff to give us an overview of the various operations they provide through the NOC. One thing that caught my attention was the several opportunities they give women to play sports in their country. After the 1994 genocide, it was impossible for any Rwandan woman to join a cycling group or other sport. Now, they offer several sports such as swimming (11 women) to participate and compete in the Olympic and African Games. Every year, the NOC also hosts a Women and Sport event that gives females the chance to interact in physical activity and gain education on leadership roles. ... Read More

May 23, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

This morning we hosted a gym class for kindergarteners. The sports were soccer, football, and basketball. It was another hot and sunny day in Kigali. My expectations were that the kids would be very energetic and chaotic, making it hard to get their attention. Walking to KICS we were pumped and ready to go. As we got to KICS, we spoke with Dr. Ben Thomas, the Director of KICS. We had a quick talk about how the day was going to go and the scheduling. Ben told us that the kindergarten class had kids from 8 different countries. At that moment, I realized how diverse of a school KICS was. Moreover, he told us that the basketball court we were standing on is one of the best basketball court in the country of Rwanda. ... Read More

May 22, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

After a very busy first week in Rwanda, filled with class, homework, meetings with organizations, and preparing for our upcoming PE classes, we had a chance to enjoy a day off. May 21st at 10:00 a.m., a group of us got up and started our days by attending Christ’s Church of Rwanda. This church is located right next door to KICS, Kigali International Community School, the school we will be working at next week. This was such an amazing experience especially because I had no expectations going into it and because of that I was blown away. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and heard. We left church and headed back to the hotel with nothing much planned out for our day. We ate lunch by the pool while the sun was out and it was overall just a beautiful day. After lunch, we decided to go back out souvenir shopping like we did earlier in the week. This time we went to this nice little hand-made jewelry shop. I ended up spending about twice as much as I did the first time we went out shopping but I couldn’t help it. Rwandan jewelry is so unique and I knew my friends back home and my mom would love something. I got my mom, dad, brother, best friend, and myself something. ... Read More

May 21, 2017

Saturday the 21st of May was a great day! We woke up at 4:30 in the morning to meet in the lobby where breakfast was packed and ready for us then we boarded the bus at 5:00am. We went to Akagera National Park. The trip there in the morning was long but worth the experience! In the lobby of the welcome center were the remains of animals that lived in the park (crocodile, elephant, birds, monkeys, etc.). Our tour guide was named Hermann and he started off with telling us where we would be going throughout the day and where he thought animals would be that we would be interested in seeing. Once we got to the first spot we saw some antelope and he taught us that the black and white “M” shape on their tails are for each other to use when following each other through the tall grass. At the next spot, he taught us that the male baboons have grey bottoms and the females have pink bottoms. At our final stop before lunch, we saw some hippos and Hermann taught us that hippos are very territorial and that they come out at night because their skin is very sensitive to sunlight. During lunch, we went to a game lodge that is on the park grounds and there I ordered a RedBull, Sprite, and a cheese burger with chips (French fries). After lunch, we went to more spots where we saw some warthogs, giraffes, zebras, and water buffalo. This concluded our safari for the day and we proceeded back to the entrance of the park. ... Read More

May 20, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

The day started with normal breakfast at 8:00am. Vinny, Joseph, and I ate with Desiree and talked about her trip from Florida to Kigali. Then, we all went back to our rooms to change so that we could leave by 9:30 to visit Right to Play. The hotel tried to get all 16 of us into one van…thankfully we were able to quit our life-sized game of Tetris when they brought us a second car. ... Read More

May 19, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

Despite the freedom we were given this morning for the first time this trip to sleep in as late as noon, most of us began our day with an 8 am speed workout video. We all gathered next to the pool at our hotel and jumped along to a video for 25 minutes. Needless to say, the other hotel guests did not hold back their puzzled faces as a large group of Americans were doing a workout video in synchronization. ... Read More

May 18, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

We started our day as normal, eating breakfast as a group in the hotel restaurant. Breakfast is different as compared to the US, typically chicken wings aren’t served as a breakfast meal, but here it is quite the norm and I love it. After breakfast we all loaded up on the bus and headed to an exchange center where we went in order to get Rwandan Francs in exchange for our American dollars. While at the exchange center I noticed security officers at the entrances and throughout the center, emphasizing the Rwandan idea of peace and security. ... Read More

May 16, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

Today we got the opportunity to visit the Kigali International Community School (KICS) for the first time on our trip. It seems like an amazing place. Everybody was very welcoming, starting from the security guards that let us in and ending with the kids going back inside as we were leaving and high-fiving one of my peers. Ivan also welcomed us. Every time I see him his positivity and energy amazes me. The kindness of the Rwandan people is something I have noticed and greatly appreciate, but he even blows them away. We went in and checked out the basketball court. I noticed the facilities were quite nice. The basketball court looked to be in good condition, the playground looked very inviting, and there were little kids in classes doing something on laptops with headphones on. ... Read More

May 15, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

We began our Monday with breakfast at 7am. Around 8am, we piled into the van and started on our way through the already busy streets to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, taking pictures and videos of the scenes from the town on the way. ... Read More

May 14, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

As soon as we landed in Kigali yesterday I knew I was in for an experience of a lifetime, an experience like no other. I noticed several obvious cultural differences within minutes upon entering the country along with physical environment differences. A combination of these two factors and the class readings I have read so far really set my expectations high for the remainder of the trip. ... Read More

May 14, 2017
Student-Athlete Development: Rwanda Blog

There’s often a significant misunderstanding in the goals, intentions, and purposes of this course. I certainly understand why, given the pictures of international development flashed across our TVs that show Westerners bringing about all the (predetermined) changes needed in the Global South. Without getting too bogged down by the often loaded ideals behind those commercials, and instead of arguing what this course is not, allow me to explain what this course is all about…hopefully making our intentions clearer. ... Read More