“Learning about Rwanda... it gives people the opportunity to open their eyes about things that are going on in our neighborhoods (in the United States) so we can buckle up and make change. So, I think it's very important to learn it.” High School senior Maceyo Branch reacted to seeing a preview of Reconciliation's Reach at a discussion this week with the filmmaker at Health Careers Academy on the campus of Northeastern University in Boston. 25 seniors watched a 5 minute video preview of Reconciliation's Reach about genocide survivors efforts to reconcile with wives of perpetrators. Then the students, from neighborhoods across Boston, engaged in a lively discussion about why Rwandans stories are relevant to them and why they care about the struggles of people on the other side of the world.
Some students found it hard to imagine how genocide survivors could begin to accept a killer or a killer's relative. Ashley Harton-Powell saw maturity, “It shows how strong they are. Because if you went to one of us, or an American in general, and asked 'What if this was to happen to you, how would you feel if the wife of that person or the family member of that person came to you to apologize for their wrong doing?' A lot of people probably would not be able to accept the apology.”
Maceyo understood how some Rwandans have found ways to live side by side with former enemies, “After the genocide they were able to humanize the person cause they really got to know that, 'They're human just like us and they suffered just like us.' You can dehumanize somebody but you can also humanize a person too.”
Watching Reconciliation's Reach was powerful for Noadya Legrand, she said, “It's something that can really change you, can change your whole mindset and your values.” Some students see the possibility of organizing their community for action. Efrangely De La Cruz, “We're the teenagers in America and it takes one person to make a change. If one person starts it up and they tell people, more people become involved and become more interested in making that difference.”
Bendina Remy saw a clear connection between Rwandans work for reconciliation and her life, “It relates to me because just like the Tutsis and the Hutu, I live in Dorchester (a section of Boston) and there's a lot of gang violence between the Bloods and the Crips. And it just reminds me, they're killing each other over nonsense and you need to stop it. It kind of hit home cause I know a lot of gang-affiliated people. Maybe we could do something to change it. And if we could change it in Rwanda we could change it in Boston.”
See what we've been up to:
-A live interview with the filmmaker on ABC-TV: