I had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda, Africa this summer with my STEP funds. My program was from May 28th -June 20th and was most definitely a life changing experience. I used my STEP funds to help pay for the program fee and extra expenses for this study aboard experience. The program was called Genocide and Its Aftermath.
While in Rwanda, I learned about their culture and lifestyle as well as our own. I had the assumption that Africa was a very dry, underdeveloped and flat continent where individuals lived very differently than those in the United States. However, this assumption was completely wrong. Rwanda was a beautiful country consisting of huge trees and endless hills. The moto for Rwanda is actually “land of 1000 hills”, which I was not aware of before going. Although we did have the chance to see the beauty of the country, we also studied the most horrific period of this individual countries history. In 1994, Rwanda experienced a genocide that killed over 1 million people in only 100 days. That is almost 10,000 people per day.
We had the opportunity to travel to memorials, killing sites, meet with victims, perpetrators and rescuers, and also visit several government agencies as a result of this genocide. To see a country that experienced complete and utter terror only 23 years ago growing, thriving, forgiving, and loving each other was very inspiring. Every visit provided a different perspective on what happened during those 100 days. Different individuals emphasized different parts of what they felt was important for us, Americans, to know, which helped also provide a well-rounded perceptive on this genocide.
I will never forget this experience. In the future, I am motivated and inspirited to make a change. The United Nations, United States, France, Germany, Belgium, everybody knew what was happening in Rwanda in 1994 and they all chose to do nothing. I never want this to be the case ever again. While studying Criminology, I plan to focus on current news and peruse a job where I have the opportunity to make a difference. The world relies on the United States and I truly believe we have a duty to help. My Uncle is a member of the FBI and I have always wanted to pursue a career similar to his. This trip has changed my perspective of the world and how important our government truly is. The Rwandan government was conducting the genocide. Our government knew, and did nothing. I personally feel as though I have a voice and knowledge to help prevent crimes against innocent people because it truly does matter.
Our class also had a blog and you can see what we did during out trip by visiting here.