Juniata Students Memorialize Rwandan Genocide with Educational Event
Photo: Jeffrey A. Bruzee ’14 15
One of the most popular activities during the weeklong Genocide Awareness and Action Week was The Butterfly Project, where students and others designed unique butterflies to honor victims of genocide. Initiated by Holocaust Museum Houston, the project memorializes the 1.5 million Jewish children killed during the Nazi Holocaust. The project seeks to collect 1.5 million handmade butterflies for a special exhibit in 2013.
A dedicated group of students and student clubs created the second annual Genocide Awareness and Action Week, an interdisciplinary program that used the 1994 Rwandan genocide to inform the campus community about genocides through the Identity Project. In addition to a public lecture by Eugenie Mukeshimana, educational outreach coordinator at the Center for the Study of Genocide at Rutgers University and a Rwandan genocide survivor, the main focus of Genocide Awareness Week was Juniata’s Identity Project. Locales on the Juniata campus stood in for locations across the country of Rwanda. Participants were assigned Rwandan identities—Hutu and Tutsi. Each day of the project revealed how far the Rwandan genocide had progressed and how each participant’s identity has been affected by the genocide. Members of the Juniata student body, faculty and staff were issued identity cards identifying them as Hutu, Tutsi, or historical figures within the 100-day genocide. Rwanda, a small country in the Central Lakes region of sub-Saharan Africa, was devastated in the early 1990s by civil war and genocide. Beginning in April 1994, an interim government orchestrated the systematic massacre of up to a million Rwandans, both Tutsis and politically moderate Hutu, in an attempt to hold onto power. “The goal was to have an interactive learning opportunity that engaged students and faculty so we can start an open dialogue on campus about the realities of genocide,” says Jennifer Ruglio ’12, of Oak Ridge, N.J. and the chair of the student committee organizing the week of events. The event was conceived by Lily Kruglak ’11, a Juniata graduate who studied abroad in Rwanda in 2010.