SFS-Q Alternative Spring Break: Rwanda
Over their spring break, a group of SFS-Q students traveled to Rwanda to learn about conflict resolution as part of a new program called Zones of Conflict, Zones of Peace. Developed by SFS-Q associate dean for student affairs Brendan Hill and assistant dean John Crist, the program combines a course about the role of history and culture in conflict and conflict resolution with time in former conflict zones.
For seven days, the students learned first-hand about the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the effectiveness of interethnic reconciliation programs, grassroots peacemaking, and transitional justice movements in preventing further ethnic violence and promoting a stable environment for reconstruction, development and international investment. “You can only learn so much from the readings,” said Ibrahim Al-Derbasti (SFS-Q ’10). “What we saw will always remain in the back of our minds. It’s no longer just facts and statistics.”
Students also participated in Umuganda, a national community service day, visited genocide memorials, discussed the role of the Unity and Reconciliation Commission with local researchers and government officials, and met some of the victims and perpetrators of the genocide.
Mohammed Al-Thani (SFS-Q ‘09), filmed parts of the trip and is making it into a documentary. He believes that it is important to “show what Rwanda looks like now, specifically, how much has changed in the 15 years since the genocide,” and in so doing, to impart a message of hope for the future.