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Author and activist to share warcrime experience

by Katherine Fernandez - Copy Editor
Wed, Apr 17th 2019 01:00 pm

 

 

Most people don’t think of survivors of war crimes and see the faces of their neighbors. Activist and author of her best-selling memoir “How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child,” Sandra Uwiringiyimana survived the tragic Gatumba, Berundi massacre at the age of 10 and resettled in Rochester, New York. This launched her into a period of self-discovery.  As part of the ongoing Human Rights Event Series, Uwiringiyimana will be giving a special lecture on Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. in the McCue Auditorium in the Liberal Arts building. 

Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Anthropology Pilapa Esara Carroll worked closely with Uwiringiyimana and her brother Alex Ngabo to bring their photo exhibit entitled “Survivors” to the Drake Memorial Library in September 2018. After the exhibit began to incur minor damages, it was reopened on March 1 at the West Side Gallery in Tower of Fine Arts. Students who have taken Professor Carroll’s “Exiled to America” class centered around refugee resettlement in America are already familiar with Uwiringiyimana’s story. 

“The process started two years ago,” Carroll said. “I teach the book every year and I knew I wanted to get Sandra here eventually.” 

After she resettled in Rochester, Uwiringiyimana was faced with the challenges of adapting to a society that expected her to speak and behave a certain way because she outwardly presented as a black woman. She quickly learned that her new life being black in America was wildly different from her life in Central Africa. She found herself unable to exist within the confines of what people around her thought she should be and felt like an outcast, a sentiment that Carroll believes many students can relate to.

“We rarely ever have guest speakers that are young, recent college graduates,” Carroll said. “If you were one of those kids who didn’t fit in in highschool and thought it would get better in college but it never did, this lecture is for you.”

Following her difficult experiences assimilating in Rochester, Sandra found her calling as an activist, eventually co-founding the Jimbere Fund. The fund is a nonprofit organization aimed at assisting the development of women-run businesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in hopes of bringing her people out of poverty. 

In addition to Uwiringiyimana’s lecture, the anthropology department is giving out 50 free copies of her memoir prior to the book signing portion of the evening. With the current presidential administration’s dismissive and divisive approach to refugees and immigration, it is crucial to be open and understanding of the experiences of everyone in our community. Uwiringiyimana’s lecture encompasses the very essence of The College at Brockport’s community standards and brings awareness to the diversity living right in our backyard.

 

kfern1@brockport.edu