“An Ordinary Man” Teach-ins: Genocide and the Language of Violence October 27-28
Based on Mr. Paul Rusesabagina’s book, “An Ordinary Man” the Peace and Conflict Studies Program organized several teach-ins based on Mr. Rusesabagina’s experiences during the Rwandan Genocide. As manager of the Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali when the Genocide took place in 1994, Mr. Rusesabagina rescued 1268 people by providing a safe haven at the Hotel Mille Collines. The movie “Hotel Rwanda” is based on his humanitarian and courageous actions that helped save the lives of those who sought refuge in his hotel. In order to raise awareness about the genocide in Rwanda, the teach-ins focused on the use of “hate language”. As Mr. Rusesabagina explained in his book, dehumanizing hate language against Tutsis was one of the primary reasons of the Genocide where the value of life was diminished to the point of making it easier to kill the “cockroaches”, as the Tutsis were labeled or gassing“vermin” or “rats” as Jews were labeled decades earlier during the European Holocaust. During the teach-in session students were segregated into different groups/categories and given derogatory labels in order to experience racism and discrimination. Students were challenged to confront social prejudices and stereotypes and through a process of self-reflection and collaborative group discussions. Two student sessions were conducted in October. Later in November a faculty/staff teach-in session took place. In all, close to 200 students, faculty and staff participated in these teach-ins.
Memorial and Vigil” September 23
This "Immigrant Memorial" in memory of 72 immigrants killed in Mexico the previous month of August as they refused to run drugs across the border for the Mexican cartels. The event also underscored the drug war in Mexico which is fueled by our unending demand for drugs here in the US as well as the economic and social problems affecting Mexico. This memorial was done in collaboration with the Humanities, Mass Communications, Civic Engagement and Art Departments as well as the Art Club and the NVC Library. Participation was tremendous with 72 volunteers (students, faculty, staff) lying down on the bridge over the lake representing each immigrant victim. Hundreds of students experienced this memorial as they walked across the bridge on their way to class. This event was covered by local TV and radio stations including Texas Public Radio and Telemundo.