As the world joins Rwandans to remember and commemorate the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, Rwandan students at Hendrix help the Hendrix community to learn about the history of Rwanda, how genocide happened, and the challenges that the Rwandan youth faced while growing up in the aftermath of that tragic moment.
“We would like to thank the Hendrix community for the support they showed us throughout the remembrance week (April, 7 – 14),” said Didier Muvandimwe, one of the Rwandan Presidential scholars at Hendrix. “Throughout the week, we had students and faculty come by our table on the Sun Porch picking up purple bracelet and signing their name to pledge ‘Never Again in Rwanda or elsewhere.’ Indeed, part of the Monday chapel service was dedicated to praying for Rwanda and Rwandans as they build a new nation.”
Nearly 200 people attended the closing event entitled “How we grew up in a post-Genocide Society” in Worsham, where Rwandan students shared their stories of growing up right after genocide in a society that had lost over a million lives just in hundred days.
“To us Rwandans, it meant a lot to us to see how the audience was so engaging, listening to our stories, and asking questions for over two hours,” Muvandimwe said. “It is part of our healing process to have someone that you can tell your story.”
“The format of the event was both informative and moving. The fact that students were willing to be vulnerable in sharing their own experiences and those of loved ones with us was truly powerful,” said Kesha Baoua, the associate dean of students and the director of student rights and responsibilities. “I have learned much about the genocide through interactions with students over the years, but I was challenged to think about new themes during this event.”
“The resilience exhibited by our Rwandan students stands as a source of inspiration to those facing adversity, and as a reminder to us all that there are many walking among us who have overcome great adversities in life, but who have been able to overcome through faith, determination, and reconciliation,” she added. “While many of us have never, and hopefully will never experience anything as horrific as a genocide, we all will experience pain, loss, and disappointment. The story of Rwanda in the aftermath of genocide is one of hope and rejuvenation, so Rwanda and the Rwandan people stand as examples to us all that light will eventually emerge even from the darkest of circumstances.’
Dean of Students Jim Wiltgen agreed.
“Hendrix College is enriched by the presence of our Rwandan students, and I am grateful to all of the students for sharing very personal stories about a very difficult subject,” he said. “It is very inspirational. I was also inspired by the turnout for the event. It can be difficult to get students and staff to come to an event that recaps a very tragic historical event. It was wonderful to see so many students, staff and faculty in the audience. That was a tribute to how our Rwandan students have impacted our community”.