MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? On Saturday, March 3, at 7 p.m., noted Rwandan Paul Rusesabagina will deliver a lecture titled “Hotel Rwanda: A Story Yet To Be Learned.” The event is free and open to the public and will take place in Mead Chapel, located on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125).
More than 10 years ago in 1994, as the country of Rwanda descended into 100 days of brutal genocide, almost one million people were killed. During that time, hotel manager Rusesabagina made a promise to protect his family - and ended up helping to save more than 1,200 people. The film “Hotel Rwanda,” nominated for three Academy Awards in 2004, tells the inspiring story of how Rusesabagina, who is portrayed in the film by Don Cheadle, used his courage to shelter over 1,000 refugees from certain death.
Rusesabagina’s autobiography, “An Ordinary Man,” was published in 2006, the 12th anniversary of the genocide. The story explores Rusesabagina’s personal journey while explaining the history behind Rwanda’s Hutu and Tutsi tribes within the historical context of the conflict. He has traveled the world with his message of hope and peace, and founded the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF), which provides support, care and assistance to children orphaned by the genocide and women abused when it took place.
Lauded by many, he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award, and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award. Rusesabagina, whose journey from hotel manager to humanitarian has been life-changing has said, “I’ve become a humanitarian and I never thought I would become one. And, as a humanitarian, I wanted to take this message on a wider scale, to raise awareness of what happened in my country so that the international community can help others who suffer now.”
Rusesabagina was born in the central south of Rwanda. His parents were farmers. In 1962, he entered the Seventh Day Adventist College of Gitwe and was there for seven years of primary school and six years of secondary studies.
From 1975 to 1978, Rusesabagina attended the Faculty of Theology in Cameroon and, in January 1979, he was employed by Sabena Hotels in its newly opened Hotel Akagera in the Akagera National Park. He attended the Kenya Utalii College in Nairobi for hotel management from 1980 through 1984. He rejoined Sabena Hotels and was employed at the Mille Collines Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, from 1984 until 1992, at which time he was promoted to general manager of the Diplomate Hotel, also in Kigali.
For the 100 days of the genocide in Rwanda, Rusesabagina moved between the Mille Collines and Diplomate Hotels. Many of his colleagues left Kigali on April 11, 1994, despite the number of refugees still left on their own. The following day, the interim government also left Kigali. Rusesabagina remained for almost the entire span of the genocide.
After the massacre, Rusesabagina returned to the Diplomate Hotel where he stayed until September 1996, after which he went to Belgium as a refugee. From that time to date, Rusesabagina has worked as a businessman.
The lecture is sponsored by the newly established Middlebury College Convocation Series. For more information, contact Karen White, assistant to the dean of the college, at 802-443-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.