URUGWIRO VILLAGE - A delegation of 16 students and staff of Pepperdine University from the US have commended the level of unity and reconciliation the country has attained, 15 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The American students from Pepperdine’s Seaver College majoring in Conflict Management who were in the country for a two day visit, yesterday, paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village, who briefed them on the country’s path from a history of conflict towards one of prosperity and development.
The group which came into the country from Uganda where it had spent 3 weeks is travelling through East Africa studying and researching on conflict, while also seeking partnership with universities in the region in the promotion of conflict management studies.
Speaking to members of the press after meeting with President Kagame, leader of the delegation Dr. Gary Selby said that Pepperdine University is willing to partner with Rwandan Universities through its Institute of Conflict Resolution to help Rwandan students pursue conflict management studies.
“This is a very new program but we hope to forge strong partnerships between our university and Rwanda. We have an Institute of Conflict Resolution and the School of Public Policy and we can have students come here on exchange programs,” Selby said.
“We have interacted with the President and he has told us his vision for the country, we have visited a number of memorial sites, our students have had inter-cultural communication.”
“Part of what we have learnt is the power of reconciliation, that people who were once enemies can really unite and live together, its really amazing and it’s a powerful message these students will take back to the US,” Selby further added.
According to Education Minister, Dr. Daphrose Gahakwa, the students who are on the ‘Study abroad’ program of Pepperdine University will be coming back to Rwanda for further training and internship in conflict resolution and management.
“They have really shown great interest in working with us, they intend to comeback through exchange programmes and they will be going into Rwandan communities to live with the people and learn from them,” Gahakwa said.
She noted that the American University will partner with the National University of Rwanda to coordinate a new Master’s programme in Genocide studies while Rwandan students will also be able to join Pepperdine through the Presidential University Scholarship Fund.
“I am honoured to have come here, its amazing just how this country has been able to pick up the pieces and be where it is at the time, it’s the hope and resilience,” Rose Thursten, one of the students said.