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Gifts Bestowed on Mayors of Sister Cities

Gifts Bestowed on Mayors of Sister Cities

Posted: December 17, 2018

When Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner and SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and Anne Frank Project (AFP) Director Drew Kahn visited Rwanda in September, it resulted in a gift exchange between two sister cities—Buffalo, New York, and Muhanga, Rwanda.

Conway-Turner and Kahn presented Muhanga Mayor Beatrice Uwamariya (pictured at top) with a framed photograph of students who traveled to Rwanda in the past, along with Buffalo State stationery.

In turn, on November 19, local members of the trip’s delegation presented Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown with a glass-enclosed relief featuring pre-colonial Rwanda symbols.

“The exchange marks another milestone in the continued developing relationship between Muhanga and Buffalo,” Kahn said, adding that Muhanga is now AFP’s official Training and Learning Center in Rwanda where the majority of teacher-trainings occur each year.  

“To date, we have trained more than 200 Rwandan teachers, who have in turn brought the story-based learning to their schools and colleagues,” Kahn said. “We have reached well over 40,000 Rwanda primary and secondary students with the work of story-based learning, which we know is very effective.”

They made the one-week trip in September as part of a delegation that included Kellogg Foundation directors, non-government organization (NGO) leaders, and Haitian government leaders. The overall objective was to gain insights into Rwanda’s recovery from past genocides that the college could use in an upcoming service-learning project in Haiti, Kahn said.

“It was humbling to be in the presence of the Muhanga mayor and to see how much respect she has for the impact Buffalo State has made in Rwanda over the years,” Conway-Turner said. “What we learned on this trip will definitely help with service-learning projects in the future.”

This delegation trip to Rwanda is one of about a dozen Kahn has organized as a way to expand upon AFP, which focuses on genocide and other atrocities in a multimedia conference that has taken place on the Buffalo State campus every fall since 2009.

Since January 2011, he’s led several three-week trips to Rwanda, where a total of 60 students have visited genocide memorials, refugee camps, and orphanages, as well as collaborated on theatrical productions with Rwandan college students.

That effort, coupled with more recent AFP in the school events, attracted the attention of the nonprofit, New York-based Global Engagement Institute, which handles short-term, high-impact projects in developing countries. Its director asked Kahn to share his knowledge of hands-on, experiential learning with Rwandan schools. Because of his involvement, Kahn has personally made more than six trips to the country to work on building relationships and creating educational opportunities. 

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