Students, parents attend Rwanda trip information session, learn about genocide

Marcella Park

A meeting in Ahmanson Lecture Hall Oct. 3 presented students and parents with information on a trip to Rwanda to investigate the Rwandan genocide and its effects.

Award-winning producer Jeff MacIntyre, Friendship Tours World Travel founder Alethea Tyner Paradis and upper school visual arts department head Cheri Gaulke talked about the goals and itinerary of the trip.

Students will interview people with different views on the genocide, including Gabo Wilson, the former Head of Security in Rwanda who worked with now-President Paul Kagame to establish control after the 1994 genocide; western investors in the mineral industry there and representatives of both the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups that clashed during the genocide.

Each student will produce a media project in the form of a documentary or slideshow depicting their trip.

MacIntyre, Paradis and Gaulke will coach students throughout the trip and help channel these projects toward organizations that might use them, including ABC, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and non-profit organizations Creative Visions and Witness.

The trip costs $1350 for airfare and an $800 deposit to the tour company is due by Oct. 30, and another $3575 is due by Nov. 21.

Applications for financial aid are due Oct. 15.

The trip will run from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, requiring students to miss the last day of midterms and the first three days of the second semester, allowing for students projects to be part of the news cycle on the genocide’s 20th anniversary.

Students can enroll in the Directed Studies course in the Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research department to set aside time during the school day to work on them.

One of the main questions to investigate will be how Rwanda has become the safest country in Africa since the genocide, in which “800,000 people were butchered in 100 days at three times the rate of the Holocaust,” Paradis said.

The same three instructors took students  to Laos last spring break to make documentaries about the unexploded ordinance problem left there by the Vietnam War.