The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education at Brookdale Community College (CHHANGE) held its 32nd annual Colloquium on May 14, at the Collins Arena on the Lincroft Campus. This year, the Colloquium was held in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Globally recognized activist Lt. General Romeo Dallaire spoke to a captivated crowd of over 2,400 people, including over 2,000 middle and high school students from 45 different schools.
Lt. General Romeo Dallaire was eyewitness to genocide as Commander of the United Nations forces on the ground during the genocide in Rwanda. Despite his pleas to the UN and governments worldwide, the international community failed to intervene and stop the murder of 800,000 innocent victims.
During his emotional speech, Dallaire spoke to the audience about his experiences in Rwanda in 1994, the atrocities he witnessed, and what he took away from it all. He focused on his theme of the human experience all over the world, posing the question: “is one human being more human than any other?” Dallaire referred to the students as “The Generation Without Borders”, citing their global responsibility to assist others, and highlighting the fact that they have the technology to communicate with anyone, anywhere. He challenged them to make a difference, to value humankind, to act, and to take steps towards improving the world for those who live in inhumane conditions.
Young Rwandan survivor and youth activist Yannick Tona opened the event by sharing his testimony of his experience during the genocide. At age four, he spent three weeks walking with his disabled mother through the bush to safety. For the last six years, he has been an advocate for genocide prevention, determined to make the world a better place.
Dale Daniels, Executive Director of CHHANGE said after the program, “As I walked the campus with General Dallaire, the thank-yous and verbal commitments from the students brought tears to my eyes. I know that there were many children there today who will never forget hearing these two men, and there will be those who will commit to the responsibilities Dallaire placed upon them.”
Contributed by: Deborah Degnan, Chhange