As I finish up my time here in Rwanda, I feel like it is the best time to describe what the heck I actually did here…a much better idea than explaining it at the beginning, right?
As a student at SIT (School for International Training), I spent the first two and a half months engaging with the theme of Post-genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding through experiential learning both inside and outside the classroom. On top of lectures from University professors from across Rwanda, we visited genocide memorials, unity co-operatives, peace-building organizations, and more. We learned by experiencing the reconciliation first hand. There is something extremely powerful about being able to learn by doing.
Over the last four weeks, we have been released on our own for both housing and our studies. Just today we presented our final ISP (Independent Study Project) conducted on a topic of our choice that we researched this month. The paper is intended to introduce us to techniques in conducting research both in foreign countries and post- conflict societies as well as preparing us for other general research. In the end, each paper is expected to be about 30 pages and include methodology techniques, lit review, presentation, and analysis of our findings. The work has not been easy and has tested my time management skills (if those even exist) and made me think deeply about the post-genocide society in Rwanda.
For my ISP, I decided to study the shift in the perception of God from before to after the genocide. There is a popular proverb in Rwanda that says, “God spends the day elsewhere but sleeps in Rwanda.” This saying is intended to display God’s love for the Rwandan people and God’s love of Rwanda’s beautiful landscape. However, when viewed in the context of genocide, it is difficult to understand how Rwandan’s continue to have faith in the Almighty so wholeheartedly. This was the basis of my study. If you are interested in reading the entire research, feel free to reach out to me on my email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is my abstract to give you a little look into what I researched and the implications of it:
After the slaughter of over a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda in 1994, God remains an important part in the life of many Rwandans. In this study, 11 Rwandans including survivors, perpetrators, and refugees, were interviewed to provide their perceptions of God before and after the genocide. Through the use of these interviews and various studies on evil, coping, and trauma, this research intends to understand both the shift in belief before to after the genocide and the factors that caused the shift to occur. Informant testimony provides evidence of the way that God and Christian theology has been used as way to cope with the trauma and conflicts of the genocide. The vast majority of informants focused their attention on explaining how God can exist after genocide, rather than actually questioning God’s existence. In that way, the informants have placed a great deal of faith in God’s plan and have used their faith as a powerful tool to continue living and reconciling after the genocide. The study provides a look into the power of religion and God’s ability to heal the wounds of unthinkable trauma and conflict by just being something to believe in.