A team of five students from Juniata College together with one student from Oberlin College accompanied by two academic staff members paid a visit to the University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS). This visit which took place on Friday, 9th January 2015 was in line with a course on Genocide, Memory and Reconciliation those students undertake which also covers Rwandan genocide.
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Simeon Wiehler on behalf of CASS Principal told the guests that Rwanda has come from a long way 20 years ago after 1994 Genocide against Tutsis. He explained them that the whole country was affected by Genocide including the former National University of Rwanda whereby its students and staff belonging to Tutsi ethnic group were killed too. Dr. Wiehler went on saying that today Rwanda has changed a lot as thanks to the good leadership, people committed to moving beyond divisionism of the past. He concluded that the determination to change history is the main reason of the outstanding economic progress of Rwanda.
On their visit at the Campus Genocide Memorial site, Mr. Oscar Twizerimana, the Coordinator of University of Rwanda Huye campus Association of Students who survived the Genocide against Tutsi shed more light on Genocide which took place at the former NUR. He mentioned that this memorial hosts around 563 bodies mainly students and staff. Mr. Twizerimana explained that these victims were killed by their fellow students and staff. Regarding the question about cohabitation between genocide survivors and other Rwandans, he indicated that today Rwandans understand that they are one people and must join hands to fight the Genocide ideology.
The guests say their visit to Rwanda allowed them to discover a lot about Africa. “Most of information that we get about Africa is negative. However what I found here is different for instance people are friendly, food is good and there is security”, said Tommy Imbrogno, one of the students from Juniata College.
This group led by Celia Cook Huffman, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies is in Rwanda for a two week period from 31st December 2014 till 15th January 2015. They are visiting different institutions whose activities are linked with Peace and Conflict Management, Unity and Reconciliation as well as Genocide survivors’ welfare.
Dr. Simeon Wiehler, Acting Principal of CASS chatting with guests.
Guests observing silence to honour the victims rested in the Memorial site of UR Huye Campus.
Guests posing with a staff member of the Centre for Conflict Management and leaders of the Association for Genocide Survivors Students.
UR Huye Campus Main Library is one of the places visited by two US Colleges Students and Staff members.
Story by Jean Baptiste Micomyiza