Day 5: Rwanda Youth Clubs for Peace

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.

Hanging out at Brioche coffee shop near our hotel.
(R to L: Emily Mertes, Jordan Hemmen, Kelly Henry, Logan Williams)

After breakfast we all walked to the local coffee shop to work on our paper due tomorrow. This coffee shop is very nice, the seating is outdoor and it is a great atmosphere to sit down and get work done. I ordered an iced coffee with “melted chocolate”. They also have tasty food there which is a great switch up from the hotel’s consistent rice, cucumbers, and fish meals.

The paper is the conclusion of the development portion of the class. Now we are beginning to talk about sport’s role in development. To kick this off we were visited by a representative from Rwanda Youth Peace Clubs Organization. Lasdislas, the representative, shared with us his organization and how they use sports to fight for peace in the nation. His goal is to change the role of youth from what it was during the genocide, and to train them to now be peacemakers. The main events this organization puts on are soccer tournaments in local schools. They began with reaching 4 schools, and have thus far reached 97 in all parts of the country. The tournaments start as they share and educate the students about the genocide for 10-15 minutes and follow up with pushing everyone to be involved in the upcoming game, they even invite the teachers to be involved. The most impressive thing to me was how they use sports and teamwork to create unity between students whose family were killed in the genocide and students whose family killed others. He ended with sharing his goal in 10 years for every youth in Rwanda to spread peace so Rwandans can live in unity. There is nothing he loves more than seeing young people playing together. He also mentioned that they don’t view the games as competition, but cooperation. They win and lose with peace, and this way there is no conflict. This harbors the peaceful environment they are trying to achieve.

The evening began with a tasty dinner. They switched it up tonight and served lasagna for the first time! Once we all finished we met one last time to finalize or plans to lead P.E. classes next week at KICS. I am excited to see how everything goes with the kids and can’t wait to get a chance to interact with them! We finished up the night playing cards, which has been the go-to game to fill our free time. Despite my inability to win, I still had a great time!

-Jordan Hemmen

For updates on Virginia Tech Athletics, follow the Hokies on Twitter