Carnegie Mellon University
June 08, 2016

Creative Writing Major Improves Young Rwandan’s Technology Literacy

Carnegie Mellon University Fifth Year Scholar Blake Chasen recently returned home from a three-week trip to Rwanda where he volunteered with CMU’s student-run initiative, Project Rwanda. The project aims to make an impact in the education of young Rwandans by improving their technology literacy.

In addition to double majoring in business administration and creative writing, Chasen plays on the men’s basketball team. He co-founded the company, flagtag, an app that offers users real-life prizes through a virtual capture the flag game. We caught up with Chasen to talk to him about his experience in Rwanda.

Tell us about your Project Rwanda experience.
During the school days, we worked with fourth and fifth graders in Kigali, Rwanda’s SOS Primary School teaching them how to use their laptops. The computers were made possible through the initiative, One Laptop Per Child. We taught them some basics in drag-and-drop programming. We also ran Arts & Culture Workshops where we read books like “The Giving Tree” and worked on storytelling. 

Outside of volunteering, what did you do?
Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda Professor Syed Zain Khan hosted us at his house for Indian food and also stayed up with some of us until 5:00 a.m. East Africa Time so that we could watch the Golden State Warriors play live in the NBA semifinals. Our team ran in the Kigali International Peace Marathon. We also went to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. The 1994 Genocide was horrifying and far beyond sad, but what has followed in the last 22 years is an amazing story of redemption. 

Learn more about Chasen’s trip on Project Rwanda’s blog. View photos of Chasen in Rwanda:

Creative Writing Major Volunteers in Rwanda

By Amanda King