I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about the Rwandan genocide in Rwanda, develop my skills as a performer and educator, and to help fellow educators, students, and community members learn to share their stories using drama-based education.
After a tasty breakfast (see below), we began rehearsing our play "Anne Frank in Rwanda 2018," a story about the Jewish holocaust and Rwandan genocide. Since January 2018, I have been meeting with Drew Kahn and fellow villagers via Skype to help create the play. Today was the first day that we were all physically together to rehearse the play.
The play tells the story of Anne Frank and a fictional character named "Anana," who could be one of thousands of youth that survived the Rwandan genocide. The mutual connections between the Jewish and Rwandan genocides and experiences ideally will help audience members see the interconnectedness between the conditions that incited the genocide which led to massacres of the Rwandan and Jewish people.
In the play, each of us plays either Anne Frank or Anana and we all perform ensemble parts where we each speak. We have created a powerful work of art that we hope Rwandans and other humyns should be able to readily connect with. I haven't had any formal acting training (outside of this humyn experience :), so I appreciate the opportunity to develop these performance skills. Throughout our rehearsals, Drew reminds us to "stop thinking and begin acting through the body/heart." (D. Khan is an theater professor but often times doubles as a philosopher/Buddhist monk at times)
We will rehearse the play again tomorrow and begin the performance (and teacher training-more on this later) in the next few days!
I am looking forward to this energy exchange with our future audiences! We have come a long way as individuals and a collective/village and I believe what we are learning through our experience in Rwanda should make the play informative and empowering for our ourselves audiences.
We shall see if I am right about this hunch.
**Nyamata Memorial Visit**
After another tasty lunch (Are you seeing the trend with Rwandan food and I?), we took a 45-minute drive to the Nyamata Genocide Memorial, a church about 19 miles South of Kigali. The church in Nyamata was a refuge for Tutsi people before and during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The Hutu-majority government and other perpetrators of the genocide against the Tutsi's attacked the church during the genocide where about 10,000 Tutsi people were seeking refuge. The church, initially locked from the inside by Tutsi people seeing refuge, was infiltrated by Hutu extremists by throwing grenades inside of the building and using machetes, clubs, and guns to kill the remaining Tutsi people in the church.
We were guided through the memorial and witnessed the damage to the building caused by grenades and hundreds of bullets. We also were given the option to view some of the remains of several hundred of the victims from the massacre. There are 44,000 people buried at this memorial. Each time I consider the causes of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the events that led up to this carnage, I ask, why?
I never am able to come up with a 'good' answer.
On the casket of one of the victims a note was written in Kinyarwandan, the official language of Rwanda, that said, "If they knew you and knew themselves they would not have killed you."
The challenge for humyns seems to be to remember what we really are, not who we think we are...
We have been warned that the days ahead will be more difficult as we begin to perform, teach, and learn the stories of Rwandans affected by the genocide. I'm ready...
My heart and mind are open to whatever is ahead.
Another tasty breakfast
Another tasty lunch after a GREAT 1st group rehearsal.
The entrance to Nyamata Genocide Memorial, another powerful learning experience in Rwanda.
A beautiful, powerful reminder found on the Nyamata memorial grounds.
Reuben Faloughi, M.Ed., is a fifth-year doctoral candidate studying psychology at the University of Missouri (MU). He recently defended his dissertation, which examined the effects of an intergroup dialogue-based diversity and social justice course on students' multicultural development. The course, now required for all MU College of Education students, was heavily influenced by personal experiences in the AFP/Dr. Kahn's drama-based education training, Division I athletics, the Fall 2015 student movement at MU, and other transformational life experiences. Reuben will complete his Ph.D. on internship at the University of Florida and graduate in Spring 2019. For more visit: