Lead Faculty: Valerie Thomas
Launching a study abroad program in Rwanda that is a partnership between Georgia Tech and the Africa Center of Excellence in Energy for Sustainable Development (ACE-ESD) at the University of Rwanda. Within a network of reciprocal activities, a foundation can be built for meaningful engagement, interaction, and understanding between students at both institutions. By leveraging the potential of distance technologies, Georgia Tech can make use of its substantial technological and pedagogical capabilities to engage with Rwandan students, faculty, and institutions.
Rwanda Study Abroad 2024
The Rwanda Study Abroad: Sustainable Development program engages students in a semester-long sustainable development learning experience. Students will begin working on sustainable development projects at the beginning of the semester and will travel to Rwanda during spring break to meet with Rwandan students, entrepreneurs, and government officials to learn about development challenges first hand and to develop context for their project learning. After the visit, students will continue their projects and complete them by the end of the semester.
In addition to project work, students will visit national universities, private companies, renewable energy sites, and a national park while in Rwanda to learn about challenges in energy development, agriculture, and wildlife conservation. They will also study the history, culture, and conservation efforts under way during visits to museums, memorials, and discussions with Rwandan students, faculty, business professionals, and government officials.
Dates: March 16 – March 23, 2024
Location: Kigali and Musanze, Rwanda.
Accommodations: Students will stay in double-occupancy hotel rooms during the international component of the program.
Application Deadline: Dec 1, 2023
News and Announcements
2023 Spring Break Trip
During Spring Break, a group of Georgia Tech students embarked on an unforgettable study abroad trip to Rwanda led by Georgia Tech Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Dr. Valerie Thomas and Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization Associate Director Tony Giarrusso! From sampling the local cuisines to visiting a range of fascinating sites in the country's capital Kigali, the group learned more about sustainable development through African culture and project learning.
The students presented research and built relations with University of Rwanda students while working on projects to identify sites in the country for a new school and evaluating technologies for cookstoves. The group also met with Rwandan government officials to discuss various development plans."The student's intellectual and cultural curiosities were piqued through the trip," Thomas and Giarrusso said. "[And] seeing the students learn and experience life outside of the classroom was very rewarding for us."
Reflecting on her experience, GT student Sydney Mudd (GT'24 B.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering) describes her experience as amazing and invaluable in terms of what she learned about Rwanda's culture, policies, and education. One of her most memorable experience was the immersive village visit, where she saw firsthand the way of life for typical Rwandan citizens. "It was a very humbling experience and enriching experience," Sydney said. "These women were happy and willing to open their homes and share their experiences with us, which I greatly appreciated."
This trip also taught Sydney about Rwanda's environmental policies, such as the ban on plastic bags and single use plastics. She also learned about the genocide and how the Rwandans essentially built their country from the ground up 30 years ago. "Rwanda, while one of the poorest nations, has a robust development plan," Thomas and Giarrusso said. "In this small country, we can seek the challenges and opportunities of the close relations between human development aspirations and the protection of natural systems."
For Sydney, the study abroad trip was an eye-opening and life-changing experience, and she wholeheartedly recommends it to other students. "I came back from Africa with so many valuable lessons and a different perspective of the world," she said. "While I was there, [...] I felt like I was truly immersed in the culture of Rwanda, which is an experience I probably wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t participated in this study abroad trip."