Photo Blog: IGERT in the Land of a Thousand Hills

Spring Semester 2018: In preparation for their trip to Rwanda, IGERT Coasts and Communities cohorts 2016 and 2017 spent the beginning of the semester learning about Issues in the Horn of Africa. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
March 10th: After a short but exciting detour to Uganda, students landed in the Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Parfait Gasana of Yale University joined the Coasts and Communities group. Parfait is a native Rwandan and president of the Kigali Reading Center. His guidance and hospitality throughout the trip would prove invaluable to our experience. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Also joining the group were adventurers Eliza and Annie Cash (Of the Dean David Cash clan). (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
March 11th: We were lucky to have breakfast with Beth Kaplan from the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management at the University of Rwanda. We are excited to share that Professor Kaplan is now a research affiliate with UMass Boston! (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
March 11th: Driving through the Southern Province to Butare we got our first look at the Land of A Thousand Hills. (Photo Credit: Delilah Bethel)
Cohort 2016 students Emily Moothart, Sean McNally, and Catie Tobin filmed each adventure throughout the trip! Their videos can be found here (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
March 11th: IGERT’s first Rwandan adventure included a canopy walk at the Nyungwe Forest National Park, bordering the Southern and Western Provinces of Rwanda. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Though the group’s tour guide had grown up in the park, all guides at Nyungwe are required to complete years of training in Environmental Conservation and Education. Many were inspired by the passion, communication, and knowledge of the park’s educators. (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
March 11th: Buses made their way to the Eastern part of the country, landing at Lake Kivu where we were awoken in the morning by the harmonies of fishermen singing as they returned from their night fishing. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, borders the Democratic Republic of Congo and sits on the Albertine Rift. It is one of the three known lakes that undergo limnic eruptions as a result of underwater volcanic eruptions of methane and carbon dioxide. (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
March 12th: Students had the unique opportunity to visit a methane extraction barge at the center of Lake Kivu. This one-of-a-kind operation, run by KivuWatt, extracts gases from Lake Kivu, “cleans” them, and uses them to produce electricity. For more about the project check out the KivuWatt Website (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
March 12th: With a heavy heart the group bid farewell to their new friends at Kivu Lodge. In only their 8th month of operation, the friendly staff at the lodge sent off each traveler with full bellies and fond memories. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
March 13th: After returning to Kigali, students attended meetings in Rwanda’s beautiful capital city. The group started the day with Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, Phil Cotton. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
The pride and enthusiasm for collaboration could not be ignored as Dean David Cash and Vice Chancellor Phil Cotton signed a Memorandum of Understanding between institutions. This document paves the way for future collaboration between University of Rwanda and University of Massachusetts Boston. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
March 13th: The group also met with Etienne Ruyebana, Principal of the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Rwanda. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Evening of March 13th: IGERT Coasts and Communities hosted an event similar to Science Cafes at Kigali’s Impact Hub. The event, called “Green Drinks” is an ongoing meetup open to all environmentally-passionate locals. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Dean Cash gave an electric speech on the food-water-energy nexus and creating win-win-win situations in environmental sustainability. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
March 14th: Students visited the Rugezi Wetlands, the headwaters of the Nile River in the Buberuka Highlands of Rwanda’s Northern Province. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Environmental Officials educated students on current efforts in wetlands restoration and conservation. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
For all of us, this was our first time seeing wetlands at such a high altitude! (7,000 ft) (Photo Credit: Delilah Bethel)
The Rugezi Wetlands are home and breeding grounds for the endangered Grey Crowned Crane. (Photo Credit: Hannah Stroud)


At this point we were super efficient at taking group photos! (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
An example of the compassionate spirit of Rwanda, community members helped remove our bus from a daunting mud patch on our drive back from the wetlands. (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
March 15th: Breakfast came with a treat when Olivier Nsengimana visited the group. Olivier established the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association. His work with the Grey Crowned Crane has aided in the species’ recovery. He is a National Geographic Explorer and recipient of the Rolex Award. For more information of Olivier check out this video about his research (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
March 15th: The group also visited with Parfait’s childhood friend Aphrodice Mutangana at K-Lab. K-Lab provides free space and access to materials for innovative thinkers from a variety of disciplines. The project sees up to 40,000 community members per year and acts similar to a think tank. For more information about K-Lab check out their website (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Photo Credit: Emily Moothart
March 16th: We were inspired by the ongoing initiatives at REMA: the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
Students had the chance to share their ideas for collaboration with REMA and other environmental management agencies. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
March 17th: Travelers checked off bucket list sightings on an African Safari at Akagera National Park. (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
Akagera National Park in North Eastern Rwanda is the largest protected wetland in Africa and shares a border with Tanzania. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
In an effort to accommodate and create space for returning refugees, Akagera National Park’s 2,500 sq. km of protected land were reduced to 1,200 as Rwandans returned to their country after the genocide. (Photo Credit: Hannah Stroud)
The group breaks for lunch with their Safari drivers. (Photo Credit: Emily Moothart)
March 18th: On our last day we had the once-in-a lifetime opportunity of visiting Fabien Akimana’s studio. (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
Fabien is an accomplished painter who’s work can be found at the Hotel Milles Collines, and now in many of our homes! Fabien’s unique style captures the creativity and endurance of Rwanda. (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
Professor Maria Ivanova came home with this piece entitled “Happiness No. 7” (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)
Students were surprised with the opportunity to paint a collaborative mural which has since been shipped to UMass! (Photo Credit: Bob Chen)








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