Witnesses to Horror: Two Veterans of Rwandan Genocide to Visit Valencia

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Orlando, FL – At a time when the United States appears on the verge of another international conflict, Valencia College will hold a Peace Week celebration, highlighted by two speakers who were witnesses to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Valencia’s Peace and Justice Initiative has invited Carl Wilkens, the former head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, to speak to students and the public. Wilkens was the only American who chose to remain in Rwanda after the genocide began. Today, he is the director of a Seattle-based educational nonprofit, World Outside My Shoes. Carl Wilkens

As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide that eventually took more than 800,000 lives began four years later, Wilkens refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church and the U.S. government. Wilkens was the only American to remain in Kigali, the capital city. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles so that he could bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions saved the lives of hundreds.

Wilkens was featured in Frontline’s “Ghosts of Rwanda” and “The Few Who Stayed: Defying Genocide,” an American Radio Works documentary which aired on National Public Radio.

Michael Savagecloseup2The series’ other speaker is Dr. Michael Savage, a former British military officer charged with investigating genocide. During his service, Dr. Savage spent time in Central Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Savage now teaches history and genocide studies at Valencia College.

The schedule of events is:

•    On Sept. 12, Valencia Professor Michael Savage will talk about his time in Rwanda during the genocide and will show clips from the James Nachtwey film, “The War Photographer.” Savage, who teaches history and genocide studies, will discuss the causes and effects of genocide. He will speak on Sept. 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. on Valencia’s East Campus, in Building 8, room 101.

•    On Sept. 18 and 19, Carl Wilkens will speak at Valencia’s Osceola Campus from 9 to 10:15 a.m., discussing why he chose to stay in Rwanda when all other Americans fled the country. His speech, which includes multi-media presentations, will be held in Building 1, room 101.

•    On Sept. 18 and 19, from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Wilkens will discuss his experiences in Rwanda and what Rwanda is like today, 19 years after the genocide. This speech and multimedia presentation will be held in Building 1, room 101 at the Osceola Campus.

•    On Sept. 18, Wilkens will give a presentation titled, “Enemies to Allies: Stories from the Rwandan Genocide,” from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. on East Campus, in Building 3, room 113.

•    On Sept. 19, from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on the East Campus, Wilkens will present a multimedia show and discuss why he stayed in Rwanda during the genocide, his experiences there and what Rwanda is like today. The multimedia presentation will be held in Building 6, room 110. At a reception following the talk, Wilkens will be signing copies of his book, “I’m Not Leaving,” which is based on tapes he made for his wife and children during the genocide, when he was not sure if he would ever see them again. The reception will be held in the atrium of Building 3.

The speakers are being presented by Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Initiative and supported by a grant from the Public Education for Peacebuilding Support Initiative from the U.S. Institute of Peace. Orlando-based ShuffieldLowman Attorneys & Advisors provided the matching funds for the grant.

The Peace and Justice Initiative is hosting a series of events, including speakers and film screenings, to celebrate the college’s Peace Week, from Sept. 12 through Sept. 21. Please go to http://valenciacollege.edu/PJI/calendar.cfm for details.
Valencia’s East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando. Valencia’s Osceola Campus is located at 1800 Denn John Lane, Kissimmee.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.