The HWS Human Rights and Genocide Symposium continues Monday, March 3, with Hannah Wilber ’12 presenting “Reflections from Rwanda: Living in a World of Gray.”
Wilber, who graduated with a B.A. in political science and international relations, will return to campus to discuss the six weeks she spent in Uganda and Rwanda during the summer of 2012.
“Because it was an experience-based program, most of our learning took place through conversations with individuals and groups who were on different sides of the conflict,” Wilber says, referring to the 1994 genocide in which approximately one million people of the Tutsi ethnic group were systematically killed. “In Rwanda, this meant meeting and talking with survivors of the genocide, individuals who rescued and hid Tutsi that were on the kill lists, perpetrators of genocide, and refugees who had fled when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took power (which ended the genocide). The experience was an intense one, and has left me with many unresolved thoughts that I am still trying to work through.”
Wilber’s talk, she says, “will focus on one of these unresolved ideas, specifically the notion of how we classify people as good or evil, how these linguistic dichotomies enable and prevent certain actions, and alternative ways we might discuss something like genocide.”
Now in its 15th year, the HWS Human Rights and Genocide Symposium is a semester-long series featuring presentations on a wide range of human rights issues from HWS students and alums.
“It is astounding to us that in one brief semester we will have students present on topics ranging from the Holocaust to Nepalese refugees from Bhutan, to post-genocide Rwanda, to family stories of survival after Armenia,” says Richard Salter ’86, P’15, associate professor of religious studies and chair of that department.
“Having continued the Symposium for so long, it is tremendously fulfilling to have interested students and alums returning to participate,” says Salter, who with Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski, is co-coordinator of the Symposium. “This is huge milestone.”
“Participating in the Genocide symposium was one of my most meaningful experiences while at HWS,” Wilber says. “We had a fantastic group of students and professors, and I left every talk, workshop, and dinner with something new to think about. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to meet incredible people doing work in the field of genocide studies and reconciliation, including General Romeo Dallaire, head of the UN Peacekeeping mission to Rwanda. The symposium was the perfect way to expand on ideas I explored through my classes.”
The series resumes Monday, March 31, with “The Armenian Genocide: My Great Grandfathers’ Stories,” a presentation from Julie-Anne Baghajian ’15.
On Monday, April 7, participants in the 2012 March: Bearing Witness to Hope will share their experience in the presentation, “Inheriting Memory and Responsibility: Reflection on The March.” The March is a nine-day student leadership mission, led by Holocaust scholars, survivors, and guides from across the world, that offers students the powerful experience to learn from the mistakes of the past while searching for hope for the future. Along with Nazareth College, HWS have participated in the March since 2000.
All talks for the Human Rights and Genocide Symposium will be held in the Vandervort Room in the Scandling Campus Center from 7 to 8 p.m. and will be followed with light refreshments.
The Human Rights and Genocide Symposium was initiated and has been sustained by generous grants from Dr. Edward Franks ’72.