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In Rwanda, Building a “University in a Box”

Wyatt Orme & Tik Root | Medium | Photo: Juan Herrero

Under a bright, midday sun, a large group of prospective college students waits in the parking lot outside
 Kepler University, in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The results of the morning’s admissions tests will soon be taped to a large window next to the school’s entrance. For many of those waiting, acceptance to Kepler could mean an end to their poverty. One young man, who cleans dishes at a hotel to support his family, says earning a spot here would be the “first happiness in [his] life.”

The student hopefuls stand and sit in small groups and speak to one another softly; their conversations are mostly drowned out by noise from nearby construction sites. Everyone appears calm, even though just a third of those who took this morning’s exam will advance to the interview stage after lunch. When the results are posted, our man learns that he’s not one of them.

Kepler has been testing groups of applicants like this around the country for the past month. This year, they received around 6,700 applications for 150 spots, which puts their acceptance rate at roughly two percent. Last year, Harvard’s undergraduate acceptance rate was triple that, at six percent.


This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 


Rwanda remembers 1994 genocide that killed 800,000

Tik Root | USA Today | Photo: Stephanie Aglietti, AFP/Getty Images

KIGALI, Rwanda — Rwanda marked the anniversary of the genocide of 1994 on Tuesday by emphasizing commemorations around the country instead of a mass gathering in the capital.

"We are not (limited) by the routine," said Julienne Uwacu, the minister of Sport and Culture, which helps organize the commemoration. "We decided to shift from the stadium and to go down at the grass-roots level."


This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 


Is maple syrup the new athletic superfuel?

Tik Root | The Guardian | Photo: Amanda Swinhart

inter is finally lifting across the US north-east. For Vermont, that means an end to a bitterly deep freeze – and the annual start to maple sugaring season.

At Slopeside Syrup, in Richmond, the trees are tapped and the anticipation is palpable. The company began making syrup a few years ago, but this will be its first full season with a new product: UnTapped.

Sold in energy-gel packets with a quick-open top, UnTapped is labeled an “athletic fuel”. According to its nutrition panel though, it contains only one ingredient: “100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup (That’s it.)”.

Athletics is the latest, and perhaps boldest, frontier for a notoriously sticky substance that has – from hard candy to chicken-wing glaze – slowly attempted to break out of its breakfast table niche.



A Vermont-Made Energy Gel With One Ingredient: Maple Syrup

Tik Root | Vermont Public Radio | Photo: Amanda Swinhart

Compressors running. Hammers flying. Maple sugaring season is ramping up on the Cochran’s land in Richmond. The family started producing syrup in 2010, and it’s quickly becoming tradition. But now, with a twist.

It’s an energy gel called UnTapped. Like other energy gels, it comes in palm-sized packets with an easy rip-top. Unlike other sports supplements, though, it has only one ingredient: pure maple syrup.



Mariachi Man: Prince Hubertus and the Mexican ski team he helped create

Tik Root | Sports Illustrated | Photo: Alexander Klein /AFP/Getty Images

Perched on the slopes of Vail Resort’s Golden Peak, Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe felt nauseous. Bent over, leaning on his poles, the Colorado altitude and early February sun were taking their toll on the 55-year-old godfather of Mexican ski racing. His style, though, remained fully intact.

Decked out in a white and red mariachi-themed speed suit—complete with printed on bow tie—von Hohenlohe was technically there to compete at the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. Having come to the biannual mini-Olympics of ski racing fifteen times before and never having finished within five seconds of the winner, von Hohenlohe had no illusion of taking home a medal. He is, however, a perennial contender for the unofficial spirit award.


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