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Post-Genocide Peacebuilding and Development in Rwanda

Trip Overview:

The history of Rwanda is stained with tensions and conflicts between the majority Hutu people and the minority Tutsi population. In 1994, in the midst of the Rwandan Civil War, the radical conservative Hutu political elite seized control following the assassination of President Habyarimana and began a systematic genocide of both Tutsi and moderate Hutu people. In 100 days, between 500,000 and 1.3 million people were killed in Rwanda.

In the wake of these unspeakably terrible events, Rwanda has made significant efforts to rebuild the social fabric of the country. This immersion project will examine the 1994 genocide and Rwanda’s efforts to foster peace, unity, and reconciliation. Participants will learn about economic reconstruction from professionals working in peace building, transitional justice, and development. The group will visit communities working to reconcile and rebuild, and experience everyday life in this post-conflict region.

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Kigali

Day 2: Rwandan Culture and NGOs
Presentation about the Women’s Center
Exercise in exploring Kigali

Day 3: Rwandan Culture/History and Memorialization
Lesson on Rwandan history/culture
Lesson on basics of Kinyarwanda (the local language)
Visit to the Gisozi Genocide Memorial in Kigali

Day 4: Memorialization
Visit the Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial
Visit the Ntarama Genocide Memorial Site

Day 5: NGOs
Visit the sewing and weaving cooperatives; see how the products are made; interact with the women there

Day 6: Education and Reconciliation
Meet local undergraduate students and learn about the structure of the formal Rwandan education system
Meet Rwandan parents/adults to learn about the informal cultural education
Meet with ex-TIGist (TIG is the community-service alternative to prison that was given as an reparation option to some who confessed to their crimes during genocide) to learn about Gacaca (transitional justice system very unique to Rwanda culture that is basically informal, community-based courts) and TIG

Day 7: Rwanda Culture/History
*Leave Kigali for overnight trip to Nyungwe
Stop at the King’s Palace and take a tour (to learn about pre-colonial culture/history)
Stop at the Rwandan National History Museum in Butare
Arrive at Nyungwe National Park to have dinner and spend the night

Day 8: Rwandan Culture and Economic Empowerment
Visit Nyungwe National Park to learn about the tourism industry
Tour a local tea farm
Return to Kigali

Day 9: Travel back to Gettysburg

Trip Leader

My name is Steven May and I am a senior from Raleigh, North Carolina. I am majoring in International Affairs and Organization and Management Studies. I am the CPS program coordinator for the local senior citizen center, and work at a local elementary school as well. I got involved with the immersion projects as a sophomore when I traveled to Guatemala with the program, something that I still consider to be one of the most valuable experiences I have had at Gettysburg. I am excited to help facilitate a similarly incredible experience for students in Rwanda this year.