Rwandan refugee works for peace and justice

rwandanStudent_portrait.CollinCooper-2718

 

Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]

Photo credit: Collin Cooper | Photo Senior Staff | @coop.97

 

Claudine Kuradusenge is a Rwandan refugee and a UVU graduate.

As a small child, she survived the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. After losing most of her family to the violence, she moved to Belgium, where she grew up.

In 2010, she came to Utah to attend UVU, where she became part of the International Student Council.

In three years she had achieved her degree in Communication with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in both Peace and Justice Studies and Criminal Justice.

“I discovered the Peace and Justice minor a year before graduating,” Kuradusenge said.

She credits two people, Michael Minch and J. Bonner Richie, with opening her eyes to the program.

“I’m in Peace and Justice because of where I’m from,” she said.

After graduating from UVU, Kuradusenge went to George Mason University in Arlington, Virg., where she earned a master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She is now starting a Ph.D. program at The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason.

Although being Rwandan and a survivor is part of who she is, Kuradusenge prefers to focus on the work she can do now with refugees and other immigrants.

“Peace and justice is a way of living. It’s not something you practice,” she said.

Currently, she is starting a non-government organization that focuses on helping diaspora populations, which are large communities of people who have been dispersed from their country of origin into other countries.

“What I realized, living in D.C. and working with diasporas, is that most of them are really focusing on either their own country or region where they are from,” Kuradusenge said.

She said there can be a gap between a diaspora’s identity and what’s happening in their homeland. Her organization aims to help people become a positive bridge between where they are and where they are from.

According to Kuradusenge, second and third generations of diaspora communities are often missing cultural nuances from their home country. In some cases, these generations don’t speak their parents’ language and don’t know the circumstances in which their parents came to the host country.

“I want them to not only empower themselves through their own cultural identity, but also find a way to make themselves peacemakers in their own homeland,” she said.

Although she has visited Africa, Kuradusenge has not been back to Rwanda since leaving as a child.

“I’m really hoping to go back home,” she said, but added that whether she goes back would depend on the situation there.

She plans to obtain her PhD in the next four years. After that she hopes to teach.

“I’ve learned so much and I’ve lived through so much that it would be a waste to not try to help other people and teach other people,” she said.

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