Marian Miner Cook

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Rwanda 30: A Generation's Quest for Answers

Mon, April 8, 2024
Dinner Program
Jean Michel Habineza

As Rwanda commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Genocide Against the Tutsis, a significant demographic shift has emerged. With over 50% of the population born after the atrocities, a new generation is grappling with the weight of history and the imperative of preventing such horrors from repeating. In this talk, Jean Michel Habineza will delve into the complex dynamics of memory, prevention, and reconciliation in a society shaped by the scars of its past. Join us as we explore the challenges, fears, and aspirations of a generation living in the aftermath of unspeakable tragedy, seeking answers and forging a path towards healing and understanding.

Jean Michel Habineza has worked in the field of Genocide Prevention and Youth Empowerment since 2007. He was one of the founders of Peace and Love Proclaimers “Youth for A Change”, an organization aimed at creating positive change in Rwanda. PLP (as it is commonly referred to) was the creator of Walk to Remember, a commemorative walk that brings together young people from all over the world to end mass atrocities. The walk has taken place in 25 countries around the world and attended by dignitaries such Rwandan President Kagame and the First Lady, William Hague, foreign secretary of the UK, and Samantha Powers (the US ambassador to the UN) among others.

In 2012, Jean Michel co-founded iDebate Rwanda, a debate program that teaches students the art of civil discourse. iDebate currently works with 150 schools and serves more than 6000 students. Through his leadership, Rwandan students won the 2017 African Debate Championship and the Rollins Cup, a prestigious cup whose past winners include Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Jean Michel is a TEDx speaker and has spoken at more than 60 universities in the USA through his project “Voices From a Post Genocide Generation” about the importance of civil discourse, and his work has been featured in Foreign Policy Journal, and Huffington Post.

Jean Michel is the co-author of Rwanda Rising: Debate as Global Pedagogy, a book that aims at sharing the importance of civil discourse to curtail propaganda. The book was inspired by the 2019 Dreamers Academy, a holiday program started by iDebate Rwanda.  In 2016, he was named the 2016 Public Advocate of the Year, an award given by CEDA, the largest intercollegiate debate program in the USA. Jean Michel holds a MA in Social Entrepreneurship and Change from Pepperdine University and a BA in International Relations from Towson University.

Mr. Habineza’s talk is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Genocide Against the Tutsis.

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

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