Rwanda: 1994 versus 2012

One of the main themes for the trip and weekly meetings has been discussing the Rwandan genocide. As some of the trip participants were young children during the time of the Rwandan genocide, it has been an interesting experience asking family and friends what they remembered from spring 1994. For those going on the trip that have a few more years of experience, our meetings have allowed them a chance to reflect on how they responded and reacted to the news and happenings.

To gain a better understanding of what occurred when in regards to the genocide, I encourage people to read this timeline that PBS has created of the country’s history.

The History Channel also provides accurate information on what occurred and what could occurred to help deter what happened.

It is important for people to remember though, that what happened in a country almost 20 years ago should not determine the opinions of the country today. Post-1994 Rwanda has faced many challenges – ranging from rebuilding state infrastructures and towns to learning how to live near a neighbor you saw kill someone. For many Rwandans, faith is what has allowed them to move forward as country. Faith and unity. Instead of identification cards or questions regarding people’s ethnic backgrounds, each person is considered “simply” a Rwandan.

True, there are still people who think in the old ways, of continuing ethnic stereotypes and differences. However, the majority of Rwanda has been able to move forward – while also not forgetting the lives that have been lost. Our trip to Rwanda will help further change the image that comes up when Rwanda is mentioned for our trip participants and I know that after the experience of being there, our trip participants will further challenge the old image with how Rwanda is today, in 2012 – more peaceful, cooperative, focused on unity and moving forward as a country.