Small group of Tech student-athletes part of university study abroad course in Rwanda

BLACKSBURG – While most college students are eager to get their summer vacations started immediately after final exams, a certain group of Virginia Tech students have decided to kickstart their summer break this year in a different way.

This group of Virginia Tech students and four staff members departed from Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. on Sunday for an experience that will surely impact them long after they return. They spent two days traveling to Rwanda, a small African country located in the central-eastern part of the continent, for a two-week study abroad course and will return to the United States on May 25.

During the 12 days in Rwanda, the students will be enrolled in SPIA 3954: Sport, Policy, and Society, a three-credit course within the School of Public and International Affairs. The course focuses on how sports can be used for development in an international community. The course will expose students to an experiential style of learning that they simply cannot get on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. The group will have the opportunity to connect with local Rwandans to hear their personal stories from the 1994 genocide, visit organizations with the mission to develop and grow the country, and explore the rich history and culture of Rwanda.

The course is entering its second year based in Rwanda and is in its seventh year overall, with groups having studied previously in the Dominican Republic and Switzerland since 2011. As with previous years, this year’s course has a handful of Virginia Tech student-athletes participating. Eleven student-athletes from six varsity teams will embark on an adventure that most Division I student-athletes do not have the opportunity to participate in because of the high demands of their academic and athletics schedules conflicting with the traditional long-term study abroad courses offered at most institutions.

Follow their journey via Twitter ( and Instagram @VTSADevelopment ( and the 2018 Rwanda Blog (

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