Lisa, E-Learning Officer for Arizona State University Library, joined the SolarSPELL project in fall 2017 to develop an Information Literacy and Content Curation Workshop for 37 Bridge2Rwanda Scholars. In January 2018, Lisa traveled with the team to Rwanda to led the workshop. The following describes Lisa’s Top Ten Magic Moments in Rwanda:

Two of my greatest passions in life are travel and being a librarian. Most people can understand being passionate about travel, but the passion to be a librarian is more elusive to most. Typical interactions include “Oh, you must LOVE to read!” Well, yes, if it is for a purpose or I am solving a problem. For me, being a librarian is to be a lifelong learner and teacher. I am fortunate to work at Arizona State University where I get to design learning options that help developing scholars build information literacy skills, such as identifying an information need, selecting a research topic, searching for the best resources, evaluating for quality and authority, and communicating the knowledge gained. Many of us regularly practice these skills in our personal lives when we buy a car or select a college to attend.

That brings me to my role on the SolarSPELL team. I designed a week long curriculum to prepare 37 Bridge2Rwanda Scholars to use information literacy skills relevant to the first year in college and conduct complex internet searches and apply evaluation criteria to help find and select new content for the East Africa SolarSPELL. My amazing colleague Dan Stanton and I led the instruction with SolarSPELL segments provided by project leaders Dr. Laura Hosman and Bruce Baikie plus the very able participation from Sarah Patterson, Chloe Scott, and Brittany Blevins. Here is a list of my top ten moments of engaging with Bridge2Rwanda Scholars.

The setting: The beautiful and welcoming HopeHaven campus, run by Nate and Fonda Kempton hosts a rural school providing education to elementary students in the surrounding community.

  1. We brought maps on poster board to use in an introductory activity. Each scholar and SolarSPELL team member had a small flag for their name they could insert on the map indicating where they were born. It was so much fun to discover where everyone was born, including SolarSPELL Team members, Hope Haven staff and visitors from Arizona State University. Scholars are from Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
  2. Learning that two of our maps were out of date. In 2017, there were . This was a great lesson in getting it right. The scholars helped me find more current maps that reflected new boundaries.
  3. Being among developing scholars who are hungry for knowledge, eager to learn, kind, insightful and thoughtful, and extremely bright. Watching their tenacity and patience for working through any challenge from construction noise to Internet and electrical outages.
  4. Dining with the scholars three times a day in a beautiful outdoor setting at HopeHaven. Hearing their dreams and answering a lot of questions about university life in the United States. Scholars were also curious about food, and weather… especially snow. Rwanda has a temperate climate and doesn’t change a lot during the year.
  5. Handing binoculars to the scholars one evening before dinner. The pure joy they experienced by seeing the world in a different way was incredible to observe.
  6. For a change of pace, we wanted to share a little bit of Phoenix with the scholars so we gave them . Of course, half of the fun of eating these lollipops is watching everybody else try to eat them. There were a lot of big eyes, laughs and smiles!
  7. One afternoon while on break, I walked up to Sarah and a couple of the scholars. She said the young women were singing the for her. After the break, we asked the scholars from each country and the SolarSPELL team to each sing their national anthem. Everyone sang with great pride. And, we discovered what amazing singers the scholars are. I’m talking 3-part harmonies…

    The South Sudanese scholars singing their national anthem

  8. Engagement, questions, questions, engagement. We so appreciated the scholars’ efforts to find new content for the SolarSPELL East Africa! Over 300 items were selected with thoughtful questions and discussions about copyright.
  9. When we were visiting Akagera National Park together with the scholars, I approached a large group of the young women having fun with all kinds of poses. I watched for a few minutes when someone suggested they pose with me! It was so sweet and I love looking at that picture!
  10. The celebration for Alice, one of the scholars. Suddenly, we heard a screech and then scholars were out of their seats celebrating that Alice had heard from Penn State. The whole room was electric! Alice was being tossed in the air by her classmates… I was crying, Dan was crying… it was a beautiful moment! It was so heartwarming to see how this community of scholars supports one another.

I feel so connected to many of the scholars. I hope we will know one another for many years to come! Thank you so much to Dr. Hosman and Bruce for inviting me to be a part of the SolarSPELL Team in Rwanda. It was truly a trip of a lifetime.