A group of 15 students from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar has returned from an eight-day Zones of Conflict/Zones of Peace learning trip to Rwanda.

They had prepared for the trip by studying Rwanda’s history, including pre-colonial times and colonisation leading up to the 1994 genocide.

By the time the students arrived in Kigali they had a clear understanding of the conflict between Rwanda’s Hutu and Tutsi peoples, and the efforts of reconciliation.

The programme included visiting the Ntarama and Nyamata Memorial Sites, the Belgian Massacre Site, and the famous Milles Colines Hotel which housed refugees during the Rwanda genocide and was the basis for the movie Hotel Rwanda.

Al-Jawhara al-Thani, student leader for the trip, said it was “an opportunity to understand the complexity of a post-conflict society and the depth of the reconciliation needed to bring together the different factions of the conflict.” 

She said “the trip allowed us to look beyond what happened in 1994 and get a more holistic understanding of the problems the country is tackling today and also to understand its long history before the genocide.”

To see international aid work in action, the students visited the Ibuka Survivors Group, the Red Cross, USAID, as well as others.

Meetings with conflict resolution institutions allowed the students to ask questions and learn about such work on the ground. Visits to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and more, led to robust discussions at the students’ end-of-day debriefings.

“Our trip to Rwanda brought about extremely important questions for our students around the issues of memorialisation, reconciliation and justice,” said Sheena Martinez, student support administrator.

The Georgetown Qatar students were joined on the trip by a graduate student from the Conflict Resolution programme on Main Campus, a Texas A&M at Qatar student and two Qatar Academy teachers. 

The faculty facilitator was Dr Herbert Howe. Martinez and Kathryn King, Georgetown Qatar’s director of student programmes, were staff facilitators on the trip.



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