Heavy and Light: Symposium 2012
Posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 by Geneva Nemzek
Every year, Concordia puts on a symposium, where speakers come to campus to talk to us about issues (depending on the topic of the symposium for the year) and all students get a day off of class to listen and learn and reflect. Last night, I went to hear a woman, named Rose Mapendo, speak about her time in the Rwandan genocide. She went into the camps with a husband and 7 children, and came out with 9 children but no husband. Her story was heart-wrenching and beautiful. While she was in the camp, she gave birth to twins and she named those two babies after the men who killed her husband. Rose spoke of forgiveness and God’s love, and how naming her two babies after those two men was her way of forgiving and letting go, and I could honestly even still cry about it a little. After she got out, she founded an organization meant to help give help and hope to genocide surivors. She took a dreadful time in her life and turned it into activism and hope, and I cannot be more amazing and awed by that.
I can’t even imagine being in her place. She is so beautiful and strong and inspirational. She spoke of peace and love and being helping hands to folks who have been through genocide and I feel pretty called to action at the moment. I periodically cried throughout her entire session, especially when she had to stop to wipe her eyes or give herself a minute to compose herself.
When the session was over, I felt something that can only be explained by something I heard from the To Write Love On Her Arms campaign: “our hearts were heavy and light.” Heavy, because the topic of genocide itself is very heavy, and also because I hurt so badly for her by the time it was all over. But also light, because she spoke of hope and forgiveness and peace, and I’m ready to be the best help I can be.
There are a couple concurrent sessions today, and the closing session is this afternoon at 3:35, so I encourage all who are able to go to do so. It’s incredibly worth it.