New Mosaic to Bring Students to Rwanda

Shane Shuma ’22, Staff Writer

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Dickinson is offering a new mosaic for which students will travel to Rwanda and learn about the 1994 genocide there and the nation’s recovery process since. 

The Rwanda mosaic will begin in spring 2019. Mosaics are “intensive, interdisciplinary research program designed around ethnographic fieldwork and immersion in domestic and global communities,” according to the Center for Global Study and Engagement (CGSE) website. Students take pre-determined classes at Dickinson and travel abroad for part of the semester with the other students and professors on the program.

The program will be available to all Dickinson students, but they must enroll in either “The Natural and Social Landscape” or “Peace, Justice and Reconciliation after Genocide and Apartheid.” The last course examines how Rwanda and South Africa recovered after conflict and how survivors bear testimony after genocide and Apartheid.

Students will spend two weeks in Rwanda in the summer and will “immerse in Rwandan culture and history, with the goal of understanding genocide and Rwanda’s development Success Story,” said Visiting International Scholar in philosophy Jean-Pierre Karegeye. Students will be able to interview survivors and perpetrators of the genocide. 

“A wonderful aspect of Rwanda is, because of the focus on reconciliation in the country today, perpetrators are willing to talk because it is part of reconciliation,” said Associate Professor of history Jeremy Ball. “Some have come clean and have served time in prison,” said Ball. “We may be able to talk to some people who are in prison.” 

Students will learn about these reconciliation efforts and will visit memorial sites. The program will work closely with the Interdisciplinary Studies Center in Kigali. 

There will be an art and photo exhibit about Rwanda displayed in the country and at Dickinson after the program. Karegeye was born and raised in Rwanda, has studied in East Africa for ten years and has experience leading mosaics in Africa with students before. 

The U.S. Department of State cautions a Level 1 Travel Advisory to Rwanda, the lowest level and the same advised for Canada. The department advises travelers to avoid Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo due to armed conflict.

“Our students know about the Tutsi genocide through readings and films such as ‘Sometimes in April’ or ‘Hotel Rwanda’” said Karegeye, though much of the program is dedicated to studying modern politics and culture of Rwanda. The country is the first in the world to ban plastic bags, to implement Global Funding standards, to use drones to deliver medical supplies and to have a female majority in its legislature. 

“We are also examining international human rights law, as genocides were one of the things that led to the creation of international bodies like the International Criminal Court,” said Ball.

The mosaic “is forward looking insofar as examining Rwanda today, but to do that we are doing a historical study,” said Ball. 

Students can apply until Nov. 9. For more information, contact the Center for Global Studies and Engagement at [email protected]