The Rwandan Student Committee attending the 22nd Annual Rwandan Genocide Commemoration at the Embassy to Rwanda in Washington, D.C. on April 7.

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Editor’s note: TCU 360 line editor Kelsey Ritchie attended the 22nd Annual Rwandan Genocide Commemoration in Washington, D.C., with the TCU Rwandan Student Committee. The following is her first-person account. 

The Rwandan students at TCU are truly some of the most dedicated, intelligent, driven and genuine people that I have encountered at this university.

The Rwandan Student Committee partners with the Intensive English Program at TCU and encourages student activism and participation in global leadership.

On Wednesday, a Campus Commemoration will be held for Rwanda. The event will feature keynote speaker Professor Sarah Brown of San Diego State University, as well as show a short film and a testimony from a survivor.

Seven Rwandan students, one other American student and myself traveled to D.C. together for less than 28 hours last week. During that short amount of time, the Rwandan students shared their stories of living through the genocide. Whether it was stories of lost family members, an oppressive government, a time of recovery, or their experiences here in the United States, there was one common theme among the students’ stories: they truly loved their country.

The Rwandan Genocide was one of the largest human rights atrocities in history. Between April and July of 1994, more than 800,000 Rwandan people were slaughtered. Rwandans were classified by two groups: the Hutus and the Tutsis. During the genocide, the Hutus targeted the Tutsis and attempted to “cleanse” the country of them.

At the commemoration in D.C., the keynote speaker at the embassy began his speech by saying, “We are not Hutus. We are not Tutsis. We are Rwandans.”

This sense of pride in one’s country, despite hardship and tragedy, is a defining sentiment of Rwandan culture. The Rwandan students at TCU exemplify this to the highest degree.

Wednesday’s commemoration will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Sid Richardson Lecture Hall 4. The Rwandan Student Committee will be available after the event to answer any questions about ways to get involved in remembering an event that changed the lives of so many.