Six Student Ambassadors of The Echo Foundation “ECHO ABROAD: Footsteps in Rwanda” program will travel to Rwanda for two weeks of leadership training and international service July 4-18, 2010.

The Student Ambassadors are Charlotte-area high school students and recent high school graduates chosen for the program on the basis of academic merit, demonstrated community service, and commitment to serving humanity. They began preparing for their journey in spring of 2008. As Ambassadors, they have worked to raise their own scholarship funds for travel, served as representatives of Echo in the Charlotte community, contributed volunteer hours to the organization, and undertaken curriculum-based studies of Rwanda.

The Student Ambassadors are: Kainee Aguilar, Junior, Myers Park High School; Joseph Biernacki, Junior, Myers Park High School; Izzy Francke, Freshman, UNC Chapel Hill; Sazzy Gourley, Sophomore, Myers Park High School; Nikki Iacopetti, Freshman, Harvard University; and Janie Urbanowicz, Freshman, Tulane University.

The Republic of Rwanda, located in central Africa’s Great Lakes Region, is one of the poorest, most densely populated countries in Africa. In 1994, over 800,000 Rwandans were killed in genocidal violence. Since then, this small country has made remarkable progress at reconciliation and development, and has been hailed as a model for other African countries. Echo students will learn about this process firsthand from Rwanda’s government, business and NGO leaders as they visit the United States Embassy, Partners In Health clinic, Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial, and several Rwandan business, social and cultural institutions.

In collaboration with Dr. Paul Farmer and the international NGO, Partners In Health, The Echo Foundation has adopted a primary school in the Rwinkwavu village of Rwanda. Echo 2008 Student Ambassadors traveled to Rwinkwavu with over $20,000 they had raised for school supplies and structural improvements. This year’s Ambassadors will put the finishing touches on the newly constructed Echo Children’s Library and deliver educational and cultural exchange programs to the school’s 1,200 students. Together, Rwandan students and Echo Student Ambassadors will label and shelve the 1,500 books collected in North Carolina and shipped to furnish the library.

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