Youth group partners with Rwanda project, offers insight into other cultures

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: John Barden, 18, trades signals with Callista Dollinger, 11, during a game of “signs” on Wednesday. Youth in the Rwanda Partnership members met at Westminster College for their final meeting of the year to play games and fellowship.

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: John Barden, 18, trades signals with Callista Dollinger, 11, during a game of “signs” on Wednesday. Youth in the Rwanda Partnership members met at Westminster College for their final meeting of the year to play games and fellowship.

Wanting to add a youth component to the Rwanda Community Partnership Project, Kat Barden started a group where students could learn more about the world outside their own.

Youth in the Rwanda Partnership had its final meeting for the school year on Wednesday afternoon at Westminster College. Barden got Youth off the ground in October of 2010, inviting middle and high school students to meet every Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church in Fulton. College students also participated to help coordinate activities and speakers. The group invited speakers from countries such as Rwanda, Fiji, South Africa, Ghana and Jamaica to share their native cultures with students.

Westminster senior Vicki Flynn is the Youth student coordinator. She said Youth attempts to help students understand and appreciate people that are different from them.

“Before, they didn’t really understand what culture was,” Flynn said.

Flynn said the students now have a knowledge of the various aspects of what constitutes culture and have gained appreciation for foreign cultures.

Marianne Bampire, a senior at Westminster, is originally from Kigali, Rwanda.

She has been one of Youth’s speakers and said she enjoys coming to the meetings.

“It’s fun hanging out with the children,” Bampire said.

Bampire said the fact that the community project brings awareness to Rwanda is “excellent.”

“It is good for children to know about different parts of the world,” she explained.

Besides having speakers educate Youth members about foreign countries, the group also plays games, eats snacks and does writing projects.

“We spend a lot of time with good friends,” said sixth-grader Sydney Dungan, 11. “We learn a lot about different countries.”

Dungan, who comes to Youth with her peers from Fulton Middle School, said the most interesting thing she’s learned in Youth is that many Rwandans don’t own books.

“Oh my gosh. I have all these books ... and other people don’t even have books,” she said.

Seventh-grader Peyton Oliver, 13, said his favorite thing about Youth is learning about how other countries are “different from the United States.”

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