Today was day two of our trip. We just got back from the genocide memorial in Kigali. Going through the exhibits has really stirred a lot of thoughts and emotions for me. I feel like learning about the genocide allows people to realize how horrific it was, and also make sure that nothing like it happens again. This museum and memorial help facilitate learning about the genocide. On the other hand, sometimes I feel like these museums and memorials objectify and make a horrible event into a tourist trap. It is hard because I will never completely understand the genocide. I wasn’t there and my family wasn’t effected. I will never be able to know how anyone effected really felt about it. It just makes me wonder where the balance between learning and tourism is? I am very glad that we came to Kigali as a group and have learned about it so much beforehand, it really brings more meaning. I am sometimes frustrated seeing tourists who travel places because they have heard something important happened there- not because they actually want to understand or help. I feel like the movie Hotel Rwanda “hollywoodized” the genocide and made it entertainment. The cashier at the gift shop told me how frustrated he was about how inaccurate Hotel Rwanda was and that the story was changed to adapt it to movie form and make it profitable.
The museum made me think a lot about why genocides happen. Genocides are always planned and have a hateful purpose and never happen by accident. There was an exhibit about other genocides that have occurred in the past, like Khmer Rouge or the Holocaust. I realized that every abrahamic religion (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) have all been the victims of genocide. I then realized that my ancestors have been both the perpetrators and victims in genocides. Isn’t that horrible? So many people have been effected by genocide, yet it still occurs. You would think we would learn a lesson by now.
Coming here has really made me wonder how I will change my life now that I have aquired this knowledge about many of the bad things in the world. Right now, as a college student, I really do not have very much control over international relations or warfare. However, I can control how I treat the people around me and make sure that my influence is of good. I can do local service to help where I live. I can make sure that there is no bias in my life, and that hate never dwells in my heart. If we all did a little, the whole world would be different. Sometimes it is hard to see results when we all individually do so little. Everything that has ever been worth achieving took a lot of people, time, and effort. The same is true with demoting hate in our world.
(written Friday, 5/18)