Rwandan artists share culture with Bedford County students

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) At the Bower Center in Bedford Tuesday, unfamiliar sounds captivated a young audience.

"I've never seen anyone sing like that," remarked Liberty High School student, Summer Markham.

The singers were from the African nation of Rwanda. They danced and performed for students from all three Bedford County High Schools.

"I dance at my church," said Staunton River High School student, Jordan Worrell. "Seeing a different type of dance and how they performed was really eye opening."

That's the reaction Nancy Strachan was hoping for when she invited the artists to visit Bedford.

Strachan runs a non-profit called Rwandan Hugs, which benefits Rwandan families and she visits the country often.

"I just quite by accident walked by the Niyo Art Center and saw this amazing art and met these amazing artists," Strachan told WDBJ7.

By bringing their work to Bedford the artists are not only exposing students to African culture, they're also raising money for children back in Rwanda.

"What we do is give 40% of our sales to take care of medical care, food, and clothes," said Rwandan artist, Figy Fred.

Bedford students not only got a chance to see and buy the African art Tuesday. They also got a lesson on how to make their own Rwandan artwork.

"Any experience other than what they are familiar with stretches the boundaries of their imagination and creativity," said art teacher, Leslie Bowyer.

And for the students who participated in Tuesday's cultural experience, it opened their mind to a new form of expression.

"I'll never forget it, definitely," said Markham.