Roméo Dallaire and Latin in Rwanda

Zara Khan unnamed-5 Responsibility: it is a word we Latin students hear over and over again. Responsibility for our actions, responsibility for our words, and most importantly a responsibility to help others. Recently, General Roméo Dallaire, renowned for serving as Force Commander on the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda, talked to many Latin families about the importance of responsibility and their moral obligations. Once he took his place at the stage, the audience simultaneously fell into a unified silence. General Dallaire’s high level of establishment spoke volumes before he even opened his mouth. His talk dealt with difficult topics—war, rape, human nature, abandonment, and devastation—yet Dallaire’s presentation and words made the audience seem optimistic rather than angry and upset. Inspiration to help make a change instead of complain could be seen on many faces. Ms. Dorer, who runs LIFE and was responsible for bringing Dallaire, was “amazed by his speech, especially when things tied directly to themes talked about in LIFE.” Dallaire specifically challenged the audience to powerfully use their role as global citizens in their own arena and close to home. He brought up his own personal narrative about his experiences in Rwanda. While working, General Dallaire directly disobeyed an order by his commander to leave Rwanda; because it went against his moral code, he knew that he would be leaving many innocent people to die. The unique position he was in and the challenges he faced required a global response—which he and his soldiers did not receive. His abandonment illustrates an important question that LIFE wants Latin students to think about this year: how can we balance and understand our responsibilities to ourselves and those we may never meet? Events that almost mirror those in Rwanda are happening today around the world, which require global contribution, such as with the migrant crisis in Europe. When asked about the world’s refugee crisis, Ms. Dorer illustrated, using our Latin community, the challenges in fixing this problem. “If we suddenly had 4,000 students who needed to be integrated into our community would we as a school be able to do it?” Counties that are accepting these migrants, often times, do not have enough resources to successfully take care of them. Especially when most of these European nations are facing a myriad of internal crises. It is vital that our generation understands that these problems require solutions. Ms. Dorer urges us to think about what is possible with the resources we have—chiefly, here at Latin. She says that the first part in creating change though our community is to have a global perspective, and to find something you are passionate about. Last year two former Latin students worked at Refugee One, where they helped refugees deal with a foreign, new culture. Furthermore, students who studied international policy at Latin are now working for the International Criminal Court, highlighting the importance of finding an interest in something early on and continuing with it. While it can be easy to feel insignificant amid all the chaos and devastation in the world, Ms. Dorer wants students to know that they can actually create real change, and that not taking action is a conscious choice. Looking to the rest of the year, LIFE is continuing its theme of human rights and is still working on how it will shape its future semester. It chooses what specific aspects to focus on by its Student Leadership, who are all currently working on topics. The importance of student participation in LIFE exemplifies how many possibilities students at Latin have to get involved, and find an issue that matters to them. We, as privileged students in the first world, have a responsibility to help those whose voices cannot be heard, and that attitude, for many, starts in high school. ]]>