In their first-ever appearance in Florida, Rwandan debaters from the African country’s iDebate Rwanda program will visit the University of Miami for a public debate about genocide recovery, forgiveness, and justice.
The UM Debate Team is hosting the event, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 28 at the Shalala Student Center Senate Room. The event is part of the Rwandans second annual tour of the U.S. that runs through the end of October.
The “Voices from a Post-Genocide Generation Tour” started in 2014 and aims to share the story of Rwanda and its recovery from the 1994 genocide that slaughtered more than 1 million Rwandans and destroyed the spirit of trust within Rwanda and between Rwanda and the world. The debate team includes four students from various high schools and universities.
“This is the first time in the USA for the whole team, and the first flight for Jesh and Monique,” said Jean Michel Habineza, head of the Rwandan delegation. “If someone had told me that I would be doing this a few years back I would have laughed at them.”
Habineza is a co-founder of iDebate Rwanda, a non-governmental youth organization that uses debate as a platform to help high school students in Central and East Africa think critically and foster social transformation.
This will be his second trip representing iDebate Rwanda in the U.S.
“Debate has the power to create bridges,” said graduate assistant Randall Martinez, UM’s assistant debate coach. “This is an opportunity for cultural exchange and a way to humanize a very inhumane event in history.”
The public debate at UM will highlight the difference between forgiveness and justice, and feature three UM debaters, three Rwandan debaters, and a special session for audience participation.
“When it comes to horrible life experiences, it’s hard to share,” said Barbara Puodzius, a member of the UM Debate Team. “But it’s important to hear about them, especially on a personal level.”
The U.S. tour builds partnerships with U.S. universities through cultural exchange programs, and raises resources to grow debate in Central and East Africa.
“The Rwandans are using debate and public discourse to create a better world,” said Dave Steinberg, director of debate at UM. “And they’ve seen the world at its worse.”
To learn more about iDebate Rwanda and the U.S. Voices from a Post-Genocide Generation Tour, visit: http://www.debaterwanda.org/.