International Educator - January/February 2013 - 19
The human face of genocide
T THE MURAMBI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL CENTRE,
Colleges and universities are using myriad means to help students truly understand the impact of genocides across the globe.
BY DA N A W I L K I E
a former school in southern Rwanda where, according to the Rwandan government, 45,000 people were murdered in 1994, corpses lay close together on metal platforms. Preserved with white lime, the bodies frozen in time reveal the horror of the mass killings in this nation nearly 20 years ago. The orphans of the Rwandan genocide—during which Hutus killed 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus and raped a half million more in just 100 days—are grown now. And they’ve grown accustomed to the memorial’s shocking images. Not so for the Bates College students who accompanied Rwandan orphans to the memorial in 2009 as part of Bates professor Alexandre Dauge-Roth’s course on genocide. Some sobbed. Others were too stunned for tears. A few returned to Rwanda on their own to teach English or to run aid programs in the region. All participated in creating an Internet site that posts the testimonials and photos of the survivors. “We all have defenses that allow us to intellectualize genocide,” says Dauge-Roth, a French professor who began taking students to the Rwandan capital of Kigali four years ago as part of his course, “Learning with Orphans of the Genocide in Rwanda.” “But when there’s more intimate proximity with the human effects of genocide, the way you relate to such events shifts radically. What’s most important is to find ways to move on and to create connections and dialogues” to prevent future genocide. Preventing the types of genocides that have led to millions of deaths, rapes, torture, and physical and
J A N + F E B . 13 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the third in an occasional series of features about peace and social justice issues in international education. The first article, “Leaving Light Footprints, about sustainability ” in international education, was published in the May/ June 2012 issue; the second article, “Transforming Lives” about refugees, was published in the November/ December 2012 issue.