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A Semester in Rwanda

Random Hacks of Kindness

Last weekend I was able to mentor KIST and other Rwandan students in the Random Hacks of Kindness Hackathon (Simmons students: we gotta do something like this!) 

It was a four nation, simul-cast event that had students coding for 36 hours. 


I ended up being the person who "opened it up" for Rwanda, meaning that I introduced the event, live from Rwanda, as others were doing in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Students in all four countries formed groups and picked a topic that would have an impact (for good) in this world. This year's topic was 'resilience', with the idea that students would design software tools that would contribute to the resilience of this part of the world. 

One group came up with a clever way to determine whether soil is depleted and unable to bear healthy crops. Others suggested disaster communication protocols and emergency first aid. 

All students began working in earnest by mid-day Saturday and were hard at work when I left them Saturday night. 

(Side note: the KIST campus is very, very dark after the sudden equatorial night fall and I was not prepared to stay that late. Although, as I've said elsewhere on this blog, I am not concerned about personal crime, I am concerned about falling into holes in the dirt paths I take across campus in complete darkness. Fortunately students were wandering around with small flashlights and, very helpfully, white sneakers. I followed a couple of them out)

When I returned on Sunday morning, the students were not as fresh but they were still hard at work. We began judging at 2 pm and were done by 4:15. I bet the students were asleep by 5:04 It was a very exciting time.

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Associate Professor Nanette Veilleux has been awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach computer engineering at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in Rwanda. Follow along on her journey.


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This site is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author (Nanette Veilleux) and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.