By ADAM FALUJI – STAFF WRITER
It’s Centre’s goal to provide a dedicated environment and diverse opportunities with hopes that the four years a student spends here are a transformative experience, that they graduate having achieved their maximum potential and are ready to change the world.
To this end, a liberal arts education is stressed so that students are well versed and open minded towards all subject matters.
Convocations and extracurriculars are also a crucial component of a student’s time on campus.
Studying abroad, however, has proven to be one of the most valuable experiences Centre students can take advantage of during their time at Centre College.
With this, Centre hopes to make its students “Global Citizens,” people aware of what’s happening overseas, and willing to contribute in any way they can.
This past CentreTerm, 17 students went to Africa for 27 days as part of the History and Religion of East Africa course taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of History Dr. Earle.
Spending a week in Rwanda and the rest of the time in Uganda, the class found the environment was dramatic shift from Danville, Kentucky.
“Uganda is kind of anything goes,” sophomore Emily Rodes said. “But Rwanda … it’s cold, still. There are soldiers marching and everyone’s driving on the right side of the road and the area is being landscaped.”
In Rwanda, students met with the founder of Good News International, Pastor Benjamin Kayumba, and stayed in the Good News Guest House.
There they learned of the genocide that shook the foundation of the country and forever changed its history.
Good News International is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping survivors of the genocide. They help survivors in ways such as assisting resume writing and developing economic projects such as raising livestock to give survivors.
The organization also pays survivors to work for the guest house and grow their own crops, since land is expensive in Rwanda.
At the guest house, survivors gathered to support each other and share their testimonies.
Professor Earle’s students heard their stories, and gave testimonies of their own.
“A lot of them don’t like Americans because we didn’t help during the time of the genocide despite being such a powerful nation,” Rodes said. “By sharing our stories with them and opening up, I think we made it easier for them to see us and relate, and I think it restored some of their faith in humanity.”
The accounts of the native Rwandans were heartbreaking, and students left wanting to help them in any way they could.
“A lot of the time Americans visit and meet with these people only to leave without ever helping,” Rodes said. “It hurts them to see us not stepping in, and they understood that we were young at the time and couldn’t have done anything ourselves personally, but now we’re at an age where we can.”
Upon returning to campus, sophomore Megan Foley and Rodes worked with Professor Earle to organize a fundraising event in partnership with Good News International to benefit survivors of the genocide.
“My brother in Louisville had a party with a DJ and my mom was telling him to donate some of the money to charity, and so I got to thinking — why not have something like that and make it even bigger but donate all the money to charity?” senior Megan Foley said.
Since then, students have been hard at work planning the Twenty Aprils Benefit Concert.
A strip of West Walnut Street is to be fenced off, and a stage with a DJ will be set up. In addition to music, Day Glo and paint will turn the event into a block party mixed with a paint run.
“I think that overall it’s going to be one night that’s going to be a lot of fun for Centre students and hopefully the results will impact the lives of people in Rwanda forever,” Foley said.
All the proceeds will go to Good News International.
Pastor Kayumba has three cows for donation currently, and hopefully the money raised will help breed and buy more cows to be distributed to survivors.
Details about the event are shown on a Facebook page as well as a donation website.
It’s impressive that students not only had the opportunity to go abroad, but also upon getting back on campus, were able to put together an effort to make a difference in the world.
“Centre gives us this idea of being a ‘Global Citizen.’ The school is doing such a good job supporting us,” Rodes said.
Take the opportunity to study abroad while at Centre, and make sure when you do you keep your eyes and ears open, and take whatever chance you get to make a difference.
“This April, communities and colleges around the world are commemorating the horrors and controversies of the 1994 Rwandan genocide — twenty years after. In the past, international communities were severely criticized for failing to intervene,” Earle said.
“Twenty Aprils is important because it illuminates some of the ways in which our students are not satisfied with remaining silent, with doing nothing. By supporting income-generating projects among widows and orphans, Centre students are telling their friends and colleagues in Rwanda, we are united — we carry this emotional and economic burden together,” Earle said.
Be sure to attend the Twenty Aprils Block Party on Fri., April 25 at 9 p.m. on West Walnut Street.