Bulkeley Middle School's R-Villages Program Builds Student Bridges Between Rhinebeck, New York and Ranomafana, Madagscar
Rhinebeck, NY and Ranomafana , Madagascar have joined forces in R-Villages, a cooperative effort involving Rhinebeck Central Schools and Centre Valbio Research Station in Madagascar, along with Sunshine Comes First, a Rhinebeck-based non-profit organization, SUNY Stony Brook, and Zara Aina, a non-profit organization of theater artists working with disadvantaged children in Madagascar. Together, R-Villages project is working to facilitate communication between both communities, to support research and conservation efforts in Madagascar, and to share experiences and cultural heritage.
Sponsored by Bulkeley Middle School and the aforementioned organizations, R-Villages has been planned to create a dynamic half-day in-school program for all Bulkeley Middle School students.
Each grade level will be focusing on a different aspect of this cultural exchange. The purpose of the 6th grade program is to teach BMS students about the culture and biodiversity of Madagascar. Students will have the opportunity to speak with well-known anthropologists and Stony Brook doctoral students BMS students will also be playing Malagasy games, showing off their talents to the children in Madagascar, and learning how their daily lives differ from those of their counterparts in Madagascar.
The goal of the 7th grade program is to provide BMS students with a more direct and meaningful exchange of ideas and cultures with the children in Madagascar, while enhancing their understanding of Malagasy culture and the biodiversity of Madagascar. They will be doing this with the help of Zara Aina, working to synthesize their knowledge through art, and sharing that art with Ranomafana.
The 8th grade students will be taking the program to the community through various service based projects including; teaching preschoolers about Madagascar, teaching dance to 2nd graders at CLS, doing an art installation in town and learning about economics through traditional papermaking. The idea behind this is to give BMS students a sense of purpose and the understanding that what they are doing is important and meaningful.