Brookwood bid farewell last Friday to Exchange Educator Patrick Mujuni who completed a two-week stay in our school community. A 38 year-old Ugandan citizen who lives and works in Rwanda, Patrick heads chemistry and biology studies and is a highly regarded science teacher at FAWE Girls' School, Gisozi.
Patrick’s April 27 through May 10 stay was part of the Brookwood/FAWE Educator Exchange that began with a Rwanda trip in 2011. That year, Grade 8 science teacher Rich Lehrer and Global Initiatives Coordinator Martha Fox traveled to the country through a grant from The SEVEN Fund. During their travels, they visited the FAWE School. Subsequent exchanges included Brookwood Technology Director Doug Fodeman and FAWE Headmistress Jolly Mukase, who travelled to each other’s school in 2012 and Brookwood Athletic Director Jane Pirie who spent two weeks at FAWE in February 2013.
Like Brookwood's exchange selection process, FAWE's is competitive, and Patrick was excited to have been awarded this honor by his school. He was chosen for the visit by FAWE and the Ministry of Education, and this was his first trip to the United States.
During his first few days at Brookwood, Patrick spent his time meeting administrators and teachers as well as touring the school with Division and Department heads. After those introductions, he quickly joined teachers and students in the classrooms. In addition to attending athletic games and practices, Patrick spent time in more than 25 classrooms across the school, working with teachers and students of all ages on subjects from science to history, language arts to world language. Additionally, he attended Current Events classes in Upper School, Personal Growth and Development (PGD) class with Grade 5, and even the Upper School Music Recital.
In every classroom he visited and with every student he met, Patrick made a connection. Kindergarten teacher Pam Maryanski says Patrick made a country from the other side of the world come to life for her students. "Our students were very curious to learn about Patrick and his life. Most of them had never met anyone from so far away! They asked him all kinds of questions about his life and enjoyed making connections with him. They were excited to share their mututal interest in soccer, and a couple of students suggested that their little siblings would probably enjoy having a playdate with his young daughter. His visit made an unfamiliar and faraway place a little easier for our students to imagine and relate to."
Brookwood teachers and administrators also enjoyed lunches, meetings, and various outings with Patrick, sharing experiences as educators in their respective cultures. Patrick was also able to visit MIT, the Quarrybrook Outdoor Learning Center in Windham, NH, Governor’s Academy and Beverly High School, learning about secondary education in the United States. And of course there was some special after-hours fun, attending a Red Sox game, exploring the Museum of Science, and a last-night goodbye at Hale Street Tavern with teachers from throughout the school.
During his visit, Patrick stayed at the home of Athletic Director Jane PIrie and her family. Jane was the 2012-'13 Exchange Educator who represented Brookwood and travelled to Rwanda this winter. She spent two weeks at the school and developed a close friendship with Patrick and the other FAWE teachers. "Having the opportunity to host Patrick during his stay was certainly a wonderful gift for myself and my family as he had shown such graciousness towards me during my visit to FAWE," Jane says. "It was incredible to be able to share our world - work and home - with Patrick after having tried to explain what an American family's life is like to him. I loved having my family, co-workers and friends meet such a newly important person in my life."
“We are gratified to count FAWE Girls’ School among our international collaborators,” says Martha Fox. “Patrick’s commitment to raising future leaders and to professional development across our two countries is inspiring and informative. Each day Patrick was here, we saw stereotypes fall away. And in seeing ourselves through his eyes, we learned a lot about our own cultural identity. Our Educator Exchange is a powerful tool for developing cross-cultural communication skills and for walking the talk of raising global citizens.”