What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Rwanda’? Most people would say ‘genocide,’ recalling the horrific events that occurred in the Spring of 1994. The truth is, however, that there is so much more to Rwanda than this catastrophe.
Amanda Velois and Diana Kamili, two four-year students from Rwanda studying international relations here at Roanoke College, both have parents who lived through the genocide. Although it is a big part of their lives, they wish that people, especially Americans, knew about the good things in their home country.
Both students assert that Rwanda is a very community-oriented society. Their families are the most important aspects of their lives and have raised them to be open-minded young adults. This open-mindedness has helped them integrate into American society, which they say is extremely individualistic. Even though the differences between America and Rwanda are like night and day, Amanda and Diana have found a home here at the College.
Diana is proud to be Rwandan. She says that she loves to be representative of her country and culture. In an interview with her, she said, “I do not see a difference between Hutu and Tutsi…we are all one.” Her words are inspiring and hint at a better future for Rwanda. Diana plans to finish her degree at Roanoke and hopefully go for her Masters degree. She intends to return to Rwanda and work there. “The future of my country depends on my generation,” she says.
Amanda looks at her country not as divided between Hutu and Tutsi but as a whole and undivided Rwanda. She even refuses to say those two words because she does not think they accurately represent her country or her people. She says that Rwanda has so much culture and creativity, something that many people forget to remember. Amanda plans to graduate from Roanoke and work back home in Rwanda. She is thankful for the opportunity to study in the United States.
These two exceptional young adults show a positive face of Rwanda. They promise so much potential for their home country and the world.