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Supporters Seek New Vote On Rwanda Trip For WHS Students

The Woonsocket School Committee rejected a proposal for creation of a Global Citizenship program at Woonsocket High School.

Jason Marzini, teacher adviser for the knows that Woonsocket Students could benefit from a Global Citizenship Program.

Woonsocket, Marzini believes, would be perfect place to implement the innovative year long, credit bearing academic plan, currently in its eighth year at Harwood Union High School in Vermont. The real-world educational opportunity culminates in a a three week travel study to Rwanda.

"I think a lot of kids in Woonsocket are disenfranchised and this type of program builds hope and empowers people that they can have impact," said Marzini.

Woonsocket High School began it's relationship with the African country during the 2010-2011 school year. Students in grades 10 through 12 learned about the Rwandan genocide and in December, took part in featuring students from Harwood Union High School’s Rwanda Program, who had recently made an educational trip to Africa. Rotary International students have since completed a book drive, and are preparing to send over 1000 books to the country.

Marzini has worked closely with the Rotary Club, Woonsocket High School, and Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator Caroline Doherty to prepare for the next step: development of a WHS Global Citizenship Program. The group has designed (and even began to fund) the proposal, a unique chance for city students to earn credits investigating global issues through out-of-school instruction, independent research, community service learning, and cross-cultural exploration.

Only one obstacle remains for the program to take flight: approval of the Woonsocket School Committee.

Marzini presented his proposal at the June 22 School Committee meeting, receiving recommendations by both former Superintendent Robert Gerardi and Chairman Marc Dubios. The trip itself would be offered to kids in grades 11 and 12 and would cost $3,000, with all funds to be raised by the students. Committeewoman Vimala Phongsavanh offered to donate 10% of her member stipend to the project.

After a brief presentation Marzini stayed to answer questions and concerns about the proposal. Committeewoman Eleanor Nadeau inquired about the safety of the country. Rwanda, Marzini explained, has been deemed a safe place to do business by the World Trade Organization and has been recovering in relative peace since the 1994 genocide.

Committee members Linda Majewski and Eleanor Nadeau voted against the plan. Committeewoman Anita McGuire Forcier was not present, creating a 2-2 tie vote.

The proposal was rejected.

"I have concern about international travel with minors," explained Majewski. "I think it's best left for college students."

"I suggest you reschedule," said Dubois in reference to McGuire Forcier's absence.

The proposal will be heard again Wednesday night. This time, Marzini will bring along an instructor from Harwood Union High School, where the students are planning for their eighth trip to the country. Nadeau and Majeski have both told supporters they are willing to take a second look.

Marzini said he is confident the proposal will receive approval on Wednesday. "It's important," he explained, "because it expands inner city kid's perspectives and they become global citizens."

Mike Kind July 13, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Although this sounds like an exceoptional educational opportunity, it should be considered only if there is a "hold harmless" agreement, that is, an agreement to be signed by the parents which releases the School Department from any liability resulting from injury to the students sustained as a result of the trip.
Carole July 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM
Well, well, well..... what a surprise. Nadeau and Majewski voting against an educational program. Let's keep our kids stuck in Woonsocket where they can become citizens of the world. How short sighted can you be. It is time to go away Ms.Nadeau and Majewski. You have summarily ruined this school system with your micro-management and now you are blocking a once in a life time opportunity for our students. You should be ashamed. And now to add insult to injury by sticking us with the new superintendant too. One last slap in the face. Thank you to Mr. Marzini for his dedication to this program. You one of the teachers that goes above and beyond for his students. We parents appreciate your work for our kids. I just wish these school committee members would get out of the way and let your creativity and enthusiasm flourish instead of demoralizing you at every turn.
Don Fogarty July 13, 2011 at 12:03 PM
I don't disagree that this is an amazing opportunity. I don't disagree that Mr. Marzini should be commended for for his dedication. I don't disagree that the issue of liability for the district should be addressed. I don't disagree that the micro-management of a couple of edu-frauds is doing nothing but damage our schools system and waste monies we don't have. I don't disagree with anything here. It's going to be a good day.
jde July 13, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Back when I was at WHS is the late 80s (with Mr. Marzini), the French Club went to France and the Spanish Club went to Spain to experience those countries' cultures, and I made two trips to Washington, DC, to learn about the government of our country. Why not let what seems like a great program involving multiple out-of-school and out of the Woonsocket education mainstream activities go forward? I, too, understand the liability issue, but aside from the bad reputation of Rwanda, the technical side of the liability seems the same as letting kids go to Washington, Spain, or France, non?
Matt B. July 13, 2011 at 02:12 PM
I am in this group and would definitely like this proposal to go through we have put a lot of hard effort into this plan and we ALL would like to go and help the country in need. I think we should just hold a city wide vote it would do better good then these committee "members" that are opposed
Rene M. Lafayette July 13, 2011 at 02:52 PM
As a life-long Woonsocket resident; proud WHS alum; and an educator, I salute this innovative attempt to broaden the horizons of these enthusiastic students. Mr. Marzini should be commended for his efforts. Travel is usually always an opportunity to learn...this would be a great opportunity. Good luck at the next meeting. Go Villa Novans!
Michael Andrew Baldelli July 13, 2011 at 04:04 PM
It's a pity seeing such programs shot down because of finances, or in this particular case the good old red herring waving of "think of the children". Had I had the opportunity to have been an exchange student back when I was in high school, my attitude toward the world would've been expanded that much sooner. As a wayward gypsy of sorts what little I have seen of the world had opened my eyes up to seeing more than just a parochial and near xenophobic-like provincial Yankee attitude. In fact, this is the sort of program I believe Ms. Nadeau and Ms. Majewski would in fact benefit from more than the students.
Steve July 13, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Is Rwanda really a place you would want to send your son or daughter? http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/rwanda
Michael Andrew Baldelli July 13, 2011 at 04:46 PM
The US Government does not have similar restrictions in place currently: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1007.html
M July 13, 2011 at 06:56 PM
There are hundreds if not thousand of educational travel opportunities in safe, well traveled locations in the Western Hemisphere. Why on earth would anyone support kids traveling to a third world country half way around the world.
M July 13, 2011 at 06:59 PM
This happened today in Rwanda. What great place to send our kids: At least 21 people were wounded in a grenade attack by a suspected terrorist in a southwestern town in Rwanda, local police reported on Wednesday. The assailant on a motorbike threw a hand grenade into a small market in the town of Rusizi, causing the injuries, police said. Rusizi is located near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Rwanda's police spokesperson Theos Badege said. The wounded including three in serious conditions have been taken to a regional hospital, according to the same source. At least "21 local residents including six sellers were wounded when a terrorist riding a motorbike threw a hand grenade into the middle of the crowd at a market place in the southwestern region of Rwanda," police said in a statement, condemning the attack. "Rwanda's Police have arrested three people suspected of being involved in this action while the investigation is still going on," it said. This attack perpetrated by unknown suspects for still unknown reasons was the first ever in the southwestern region near the border with eastern DR Congo, where a Rwandan Hutu rebel group of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) established a foothold after the 1994 Rwanda massacre.
Carole July 13, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Read below. Maybe we should not send out kids to San Fransisco either. Community groups including Oakland for Justice organized and held a protest in San Francisco's Civic Center BART station in response to another shooting of a transit user by BART police. Charles Hill was on the Civic Center train platform when he was shot 3 times. He later died. This is the second shooting of a transit user by BART police within the last 3 years. Protesters swarmed the Civic Center BART station and shut it down. There were scuffles betwen protesters, police and transit riders. I guess we live in a dangerous world. Terrorists "want" us to keep looking over our shoulders. So I guess M's solution is to just lock up our kids in Woonsocket and never let them out. Let's see M.......hmmmm I wonder if that is short for "M" ajewski. Seems like you are the only person that thinks this is a bad idea. Please....go away!
Michael Andrew Baldelli July 13, 2011 at 08:42 PM
The world is not a safe place. Trying to make it so for the sake of "the children" is like trying to create a fantasy world which is bound to crumble and crash when those children end up moving out of the house and living on their own. Further, something can be said about choosing a "third world" location to learn these lessons by. The problem with many teens that I've encountered in my 22 years online has been a growing ignorance of almost mind-boggling proportions that the world is as they see it -- that the world only moves the same way their neighborhood does. And anything that falls outside of that myopic vision is lies. With a program like this, they get to see what they take for granted and understand that the world isn't as cushy as they think it is. If not Rwanda, how about somewhere closer to home. The Appalachians, or the Creole of Lousiana? What about a Native American Reservation? How about any of the ghettoized project housing of this town or the adjacent towns. I see you shooting it down.. However, I've yet to see you offer alternatives other than a simple hand waving saying, "choose somewhere else." Why is that I wonder?
Steve July 14, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Sandy, what happened to Stephen Weber's post that he made last night at 6:20 pm? It doesn't seem to be here any more............?
Sandy Phaneuf July 14, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Steve, I don't know- I don't believe I deleted it (what did it say?) He may have deleted it himself.
Steve July 14, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Just sent you the e-mail notification of his post.
STEPHEN WEBER July 14, 2011 at 06:45 PM
I deleted the comment in question myself first thing this morning. I had earlier in the week vowed to myself to never comment here on the Patch again because so many of my comments here have been deleted for NO good reason .... None of which contained ANY vulgarity or personal attacks whatsoever ... All were very blunt and outspoken, and some strongly worded in my opposition to certain subjects but NONE WERE INAPPROPRIATE !!! I always say what I think and feel online as well as in person and my First Amendment rights have been totally violated by this site ( THE WOONSOCKET PATCH ) numerous times as my opposition and opinions on Gay marriage and other controversial subjects which I do not approve of differs from the staff here and are quickly Deleted... This has happened many times!!!! Too much Censorship of opinions that differ from your own are nothing more than a Marxist or Socialist action...
Sandy Phaneuf July 14, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Stephen, I have deleted VERY few of your comments. We did have some issues with the comment stream last week during a site update which unfortunately removed several comments (including some of my own.) We have strict guidelines regarding what is and is not appropriate, and if you look back to see how many of your comments still exist (along with plenty of other commentary from readers with similar points of view) it becomes obvious that the claim of censorship based on any sort of opinion is not based in reality. That said, if your comment contains what would constitute hate speech in a court of law, is derogatory, and/or contains a personal attack, it will be removed, as is the case on virtually every credible news site on the web.
STEPHEN WEBER July 14, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Sandy , What exactly is " Very Few" ? What violates Guidelines?? Readers should be made aware and you should have the "Posting Guidelines " in a tab on top the front page somewhere... I stand by my statement that I have NEVER used vulgarity on this site and I've NEVER engaged in personal attacks on any individual., so I'm curious why ANY or "Very Few " of my comments at all have been deleted... Please Enlighten me... If the kids going out for recess don't know and are not made aware of the the rules upfront there is likely to be anarchy on the playground and it's not right to make em stay after school...
Michael Andrew Baldelli July 14, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Mr. Weber -- Just for the record: your First Amendment Rights only protect you against censorship from government -- that is Congress -- as is worded here from the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. As this is a social board of sorts, it does not fall under Congress or Congressional action against you or your voicing your opinion. Further, barring what Ms. Phaneuf said about upgrades and subsequent accidental deletions of your messages -- anything said here falls to the mores of the collective flagging any of your comments inappropriate. Might I suggest you read several examples of how such a site like this falls outside of First Amendment protection: http://bessel.org/privorg.htm
Patrick Luce (Editor) July 14, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Mr Weber, We welcome and encourage all reasoned opinions that contribute to the ongoing dialogue we aim to foster on issues impacting the community. We respect and welcome all viewpoints on the issues in order to have a comprehensive debate. That said, we do require a modicum of decency in all posts. Unnecessarily vicious or demeaning comments that do not add to an educated debate, and are clearly intended to insult, are not welcome on Patch and will be removed. We welcome your and everyone's opinions on all issues, and we encourage you to continue posting your comments. But we ask that all contributors remain civil and refrain from baseless insults. Thank you very much for you past and future contributions to Patch.

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