My introduction to Rwanda occurred at the age of 15 years old, when my interest in the world outside my little life was injected with history, literature, film, and music. During this time I was able to take a class at my high school called “War of the 20th Century” and for an extended period of time we analyzed the reoccurrence of genocide throughout history. Rwanda was apart of the conversation. My mind flooded with inconceivable statistics and facts: one million killed by handheld weapons mainly machete in one hundred days, the deplorable lack of response by the UN to intervene, Bill Clinton admitting US intervention could have saved 300,000 lives etc. All I could feel was shame, fear, and disappointment about a world that permits such horror.
Today, I write from Rwanda with increasingly restored faith in humanity. Although I have heard countless stories from Professor Drew about Rwanda's reconciliation process I needed more proof. Within hours of planting my feet on Rwanda's soil something was apparent. What that is I know I will see with my own eyes and feel in my heart in the days ahead.
Traveling with a crew, my companions are a diverse group of individuals with varied backgrounds, experiences, professions, and tastes but all of us are here with a common objective: to tell a story. The most wonderful part of storytelling is that it is alive and vulnerable to elements surrounding it. When we share our story we change others stories who in turn become apart of ours, and the cycle continues. To quote musician Bill Fay, “It is a cosmic concerto, and it stirs my soul.”
I am so grateful for this moment and the many to come as I venture through Remarkable Rwanda.
Andrew Ross is an educator and performer that is currently studying Theater Arts at SUNY Buffalo State and will be beginning his Masters in Educational Theater and Social Studies Education at New York University this upcoming fall. He is an active member of Buffalo State's Anne Frank Project and is currently touring a show and workshop to local high schools. Outside of school Andrew's passion is spending time with people, through food, music, storytelling, and games. A lover of traveling, Andrew is thrilled and honored to have the privilege to be welcomed to Rwanda.