Chris Snyder, SMU Guest

The trip to Rwanda was the most impactful trip I have ever experienced. While I tried to avoid preconceived notions going into the trip, I was struck by the beauty of the land and its people. Every person I encountered was kind, generous and welcoming. I had the tremendous privilege of volunteering for three days at Les Enfants de Dieu, which is an orphanage for street children. It is difficult to succinctly summarize such a moving experience. Among the myriad of positive attributes I observed, the one that is perhaps the most meaningful from a peace building perspective is resilience. Upon reflecting upon the journey this nation has been on dating back to the 1994 genocide and my personal experiences with the children and staff at the orphanage, I walked away with a profound respect for how the people and children of Rwanda are able to thrive in the face of adversity of challenge. The people of Rwanda have shown a remarkable ability to show forgiveness and compassion despite having been through a period of horrific and confounding violence. The children at the orphanage have lived in what we would consider severe poverty, yet I was overwhelmed by the joy, happiness and kindness they exhibited. I believe there is much we can learn from how Rwandans are able to find peace and happiness in the face of challenging circumstances.