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Out of Africa

August 11, 2006

“My name is Romeo Umulisa, and I’m from Rwanda. When I was 14 years old, I chose a direction for my life. It was human rights teaching. I also chose cinema as my way to express what I have in mind–to be a leader for peace and freedom.” 

Romeo Umulisa is the first recipient of Lewis & Clark’s Romeo Dallaire Scholarship. The scholarship provides full tuition, books, and living expenses for a qualified African student wishing to study the English language at Lewis & Clark College for one academic year. He or she enrolls in classes with students from around the world in the College’s Academic English Studies program.

Umulisa, 20, is active in issues of human rights and reconciliation in Rwanda. He is involved with the Rwanda Cinema Centre in Kigali, writing and directing documentary films on the 1994 Rwandan genocide and similar human rights concerns, as well as promoting reconciliation in schools through film and other educational projects.

“I want to tell people what happened and why,” says Umulisa, “but I’m not only interested in the dark side of the story. I want to tell about what Rwanda can offer today.”

Umulisa’s first connection with the College was through student Michael Graham ‘06. Two years ago, Graham traveled to Rwanda to make a documentary about the plight of children during the genocide and the country’s efforts toward reconciliation. While there, he met Umulisa, and the two teamed up to interview survivors of the genocide.

“There are a million stories,” says Umulisa. “Everyone has a story that is horrible. It was Rwandan versus Rwandan.”

The scholarship itself was started in 2004, in honor of Lt. General Romeo Dallaire of Canada, former commander of the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission to Rwanda and committed humanitarian.

For more information, or to make a contribution, click here.

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