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December 23, 2015 at 8:39 am

Spanish Alum Blogs from Rwanda, Genocide

Ohio University alum Kate Hiller ’15 blogs from Rwanda in December, where she writes about participating in Azizi Life for a day.

Hiller earned a B.A. in Spanish from the College of Arts & Sciences.

Kate Hiller successfully carries grass for the cows.

Kate Hiller successfully carries grass for the cows.

After introductions, our hosts dressed us up in brightly colored fabrics (skirts and head wraps), then took us outside to peel sweet potatoes and chop veggies to put in our bean stew. With the assistance of a translator from Azizi Life, we were able to share traditions, explain how we cook sweet potatoes in the U.S., and learn about which plants grow in the fields surrounding the house. Next, we walked down to a field of banana trees and learned how to make a crown-type thing out of banana leaves so that we could carry some grass from this field on our heads to feed the cows in another field. When we had arrived, the cows had already been taken out in the fields by some of the children, but I did successfully carry long grasses on my head for about 10 minutes without dropping it, and that’s what really counts in my book.”

Hiller also wrote about “G” is for Genocide.

When I was a freshman in high school, my Honors World Studies teacher had the class watch the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda (with parental permission of course–it’s rated R and I was barely 14 at the time). My class was right before lunch, and I will never forget the trance-like state in which many of us walked into the cafeteria, sat down, and ate our lunch (if we could stomach it) in silence. We were all stunned. How was this possible? And in 1994? About half of us were BORN in 1994! And why had we never heard about this atrocity before if it was so significant?

(Well, as I have come to know, a major reason for our lack of knowledge is the fact that this time was a bit of a sore spot in international history, especially for Western nations like the United States – so sore that, had I not seen Hotel Rwanda in my class that day, I may not have known about the genocide before I began my research in preparation for this trip.)

About Kate Hiller

Kate Hiller is a Dec. 2015 graduate from Ohio University, where she earned a B.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Spanish. Over the last two years, Kate has lived and studied in Ecuador, covered the World Cup in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, worked with the Young African Leaders’ Initiative Connect Camps in Namibia and Rwanda, spent time doing radio production with students from the University of Leipzig in Germany, and visited family friends in Norway. When she isn’t planning her next adventure, you can find her taking photos, getting lost, pretending to be athletic, or cooking something that usually includes noodles. Follow Kate on Twitter @kmhiller and on Instagram @kmhiller527.

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