Charles Costanzo, a political science and statistics double major, learned how Rwanda recovered and reestablished peace in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide while abroad on the Genocide and Its Aftermath in Rwanda summer 2022 program.
This summer, I studied abroad as a part of an Ohio State faculty-led sociology program, Genocide and its Aftermath, in Kigali, Rwanda. I learned about the genocide against the Tutsi people that occurred in 1994, discussing the social and historical context leading up to the genocide, the events of the genocide and how the country rebuilt in the aftermath of the genocide. Despite the fact that one million people were killed over the course of only 100 days, the government has done an extraordinary job of rebuilding and achieving peace and reconciliation in its aftermath.
Participating in this program strengthened my understanding of genocide, transitional justice, development and collective memory. I challenged my understanding of human behavior, our institutions and how societies function around the world. By studying one of the darkest chapters in Rwandan history, I was forced to ask—and attempt to answer—very uncomfortable questions. Studying abroad in Rwanda was so worthwhile because by exploring these questions, I broadened the lens with which I view the world.
There are many lessons to learn from how Rwandan society came to terms with its violent past, which is known as transitional justice. Because Rwanda employed a hybrid form of transitional justice that was both punitive and restorative, the country is notable among countries that have gone through a genocide. As a Political Science major, learning about Rwanda’s recovery efforts will definitely come in handy. Through studying genocide and Rwanda’s response, I learned the importance of resilience and working towards recovery, especially in extremely difficult situations. Social science majors learn skills that hopefully will allow us to contribute to efforts to build a better society. After studying abroad in Rwanda, I have added a few more tools to my “social science” toolkit that I will use throughout my academic and professional career. I am beyond grateful for this experience and for all of the amazing people I met.