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July 09, 2007

Peace Colloquium in the News

Posted in: Peace Colloquium, Student News, Faculty/Staff in the News, Announcements

The Union Leader has published two articles about the college's Colloquium on Peace, Reconciliation, Social Justice, and Global Citizenship. The colloquium, which runs July 1-13, is a two-week, intensive, interdisciplinary, residential program in peace-making, non-violence, and global citizenship, rooted in the teachings of social justice. The colloquium is being held at Saint Anselm College with students participating from both Saint Anselm College and St. Mary's University College in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In a June 30 article titled, "Give Peace a Chance," the Union Leader reported:

"As Catholic colleges, both St. Mary's and Saint Anselm, have a particular interest in promoting peace, nonviolence, reconciliation, and greater awareness of social justice," said [Saint Anselm Professor Elaine Rizzo].

At the colloquium, students will meet with a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, learn more about Muslim perspectives on pacifism from an imam, and hear about the Irish peace process from some of the people who made it happen.

Outside of the classroom, they are planning to tour the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and attend a town meeting in Goffstown.

The four-part program begins with a unit on diversity, multiculturalism, and democracy. Saint Anselm Professor Dale Kuehne will kick it off with a lecture on "Racism: America's Original Sin: Why Can't We All Get Along?" In successive units, students will be immersed in the theologies and philosophies of violence and nonviolence, global citizenship, women as peacemakers, and strategies and techniques for conflict resolution.

Students will also view the topic of peace from the perspective of psychologists, who will lecture on the neurobiology of trauma and forgiveness and how concepts of war and peace among children shape them as they grow up to be citizens.

"I think we've got an interesting and unusual program of events," Rizzo said. "I think the students are in for an incredible experience. They are practically getting a Ph.D. in peace."

In a July 9 article titled, "Rwandan Women Describe Surviving Genocide in 1994," the Union Leader covered the lecture delivered at the Peace Colloquium by two women who survived the Rwandan genocide.

The evening began with a 2005 documentary, God Sleeps in Rwanda, made 11 years after the 100-day reign of terror which left as many as one million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead at the hands of several Hutu militias.

The mass killings left the social fabric of the country in tatters. Among the survivors, an estimated 250,000 women had been raped, and now, constituting 70 percent of the population, they were expected to rebuild their country along with their lives.

Children who had lost both parents were raised by teenage siblings. After the genocide, there were about 65,000 such households, with 350,000 parentless children, according to the documentary.

After the film, two women who had been in Rwanda told students of how they endured the 100-day reign of terror and why they came to America.

Saying the horrors of the genocide were beyond the imagination of anyone who had not been there, the women urged their American listeners to preserve the memory of what had happened.

Christina Mukankaka lost her husband, both parents, two brothers, and a sister. Most of her extended family had lived in a village of 300 people.

After the bloodshed, about 10 were left, including Mukankaka and her three children.

"People just lost their own humanity in general," Mukankaka said. "Even when we look back we think it's a nightmare… It is something beyond a human imagination." Mukankaka said she spent most of those 100 days running from one hiding place to another. Sympathetic Hutu families would shelter her and her family, but only for a few days at a time, before they became scared of reprisals from Hutu militias.

Some people wonder why God would allow the Rwandan genocide to happen, Mukankaka said. She didn't offer the students any answers of her own, saying she took a different approach to the question. It was only by a miracle of God, she said, that she lived through it all.


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