The World is a Book: A Page in Rwanda

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine Lydia Hsu comes from the 10-square mile patch of green in upstate New York that calls itself home to Cornell University – otherwise known as Ithaca, New York. Since middle school, she has wanted to pursue a career in teaching English, but after taking her first class on Africa at Northwestern with Professor Glassman, she decided to major in both English Literature and African Studies and pursue a Secondary Teaching Certification through SESP. Outside of classes, she divides her time between work, student groups, and play. She is a teaching assistant for the Center for Talent Development and a Jumpstart Corps Member at Howard Area Community Center. She serves as the Events Coordinator for the African Students Association, the leader of the Undergraduate Africa Seminar, the African Studies Representative on the Weinberg Student Advisory Board, and the Publicity Chair for TOMCats. Outside of all of this, she enjoys nighttime walks on the lake fill, Lyric Opera and Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances, days spent at the Art Institute, and spontaneous Red Mango runs. This summer, she will turn another page and go to Rwanda to teach English at Network for Africa’s Learning Centre in Kigali. This project unites all three of her academic interests – English, African Studies, and Secondary Education – in the goal of creating and implementing an ELL curriculum for students at the school. She will not only have the opportunity to take what she has learned about Rwanda and English education to develop an ELL curriculum, but she will also have the chance to challenge and supplement what she has learned to enrich her understanding of Rwanda and expand her experience as an English teacher – both of which she hopes will give her a glimpse of what she eventually plans to do for the long-term. GRANT: Lydia is travelling on an Immersion Experience Grant given by the Office of the Provost. This grant offers $2,000 of support for students engaged in intensive summer experiences, whether based domestically or internationally. For more information about the grant, go to: http://www.northwestern.edu/immersion/who.html

Intro to The World is a Book

I’ve been exploring and pushing boundaries since I was a child. My parents groan when they recall the difficult time they had rearing me: I never wanted to eat, never wanted to sleep, and was constantly in the midst of a new adventure – whether it involved falling out of a window in an attempt to fly, reenacting battle scenes from Star Wars at family dinner parties, or creating original works of art with the brilliant colors and materials provided by my lunch. I was born with a thirst to learn and a desire to challenge conventional parameters.

I come from a family of computer scientists, so my aspirations and interests have always been – well, shall we say, different? Instead of excelling at math and science, I thrived in the humanities and the arts, and my career goals shifted from becoming a fashion designer, to pursuing piano, to writing novels, to marrying a prince (and subsequently becoming a princess – I admit I still haven’t entirely abandoned this one). Now, as a junior at Northwestern, I’ve decided to pursue a career in secondary education as a double major in English Literature and African Studies.

As an aspiring educator, I believe that teachers should teach where they are most needed and where they can achieve the greatest positive impact. My particular interests lie in the role education plays in development and I am especially concerned with supporting the most vulnerable members of society – women and children. Since high school, I have wanted to teach English in Africa. After coming to Northwestern, I realized my desire to teach in Rwanda and be a part of post-genocide reconstruction efforts.

This summer, I will get a taste of what I hope to do for a lifetime.

I will spend two months in Rwanda during which time I will design, implement, and evaluate a working English Language Learning curriculum for the Network for Africa Learning Centre in Kigali. I will also be in the capital for the presidential election in August. I am simultaneously thrilled and nervous to have this opportunity to unite all three of my academic interests – English, African Studies, and Secondary Education – in a beautiful country with a rich and fascinating history, and an exciting future ahead.

I invite you to join me in being a part of that future on my greatest adventure yet.