I grew up in a society suffering from such deep divisions that it led to the most horrifying genocide since the Holocaust. While much has been done, we are still working to secure a sustainable peace in Rwanda.
Christine Turabamariya, a Rwandan educator and alum of Outward Bound Peacebuilding’s Practicum on Experiential Peacebuilding in Costa Rica, has been named a 2016 Rotary International Peace Fellow. The Fellowship will fully fund Christine’s Master’s Program in Peace studies at Bradford University in the United Kingdom. Christine is an amazing woman, alum and friend. We are thrilled that she has received this recognition and opportunity to advance her peacebuilding leadership. Christine is a wonderful demonstration of Outward Bound Peacebuilding’s commitment to local leaders who join our programming and then return to their communities empowered to work for peace.
Christine’s desire to work for peace evolved from her personal experience of war and conflict. In 1994, as a high school student in Rwanda, she lived through the genocide of Tutsi. As she describes it, genocide was a devastating experience for young people who saw it happening, but they were too young and weak to stop the terrible violence. After surviving the genocide and the terrible aftermath, she eventually made it to university, and started a career as a professional educator at the secondary school level in Rwanda, where she often found herself in the position of a mediator. She educated groups for non-violence, and she worked toward peaceful coexistence among students, teachers, school leaders and the community. Most recently she worked as a program manager and instructor for Frontiers Adventures Great Lakes. Based on the Outward Bound model, the organization develops leadership skills in young people through experiential and outdoor learning courses.
I am fascinated by the power of experiential techniques, particularly for adults, and I have seen that there is great potential in combining this kind of approach with peace education. I believe that education and good leadership are powerful tools for building peace in societies and in the world.
In June 2013, Christine participated in the Practicum for Experiential Peacebuilding (The Practicum), Outward Bound Peacebuilding’s 10-day expeditionary program held annually in Costa Rica. The program brings together conflict resolution professionals and students from all over the world. For the first time, Christine understood that there is a vast network of peacebuilders at the international level and many opportunities to learn and grow as an educator in this field. After her experience with Outward Bound Peacebuilding, Christine decided to dedicate her life to peacebuilding both at the local and international levels. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, she will continue to professionalize her peacebuilding skills and education, including experiential peacebuilding, bringing these capacities back to East Africa where there is a great need for both.
I believe that new ways of addressing and educating people to manage conflict must include experiential approaches to peace education, so that students and professionals can learn by doing.