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Intellect

Best weapon against war is dialogue, says "Hotel Rwanda" manager

Instead of fighting violence and war with more violence, people should strive to increase dialogue, said Paul Rusesabagina, the original hotel manager of the renowned "Hotel Rwanda," speaking to students at Tuesday's forum in the Marriott Center

"Words can be the best or the worst weapon in the human being's arsenal, depending on what goal you want to achieve," Rusesabagina said. "The only thing that can bring people together is dialogue."

Rusesabagina shared a message of hope and inspiration as he told of his experience sheltering more than 1,200 refugees during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

For 70 days, Rusesabagina sheltered refugees in the Mille Collines Hotel. The hotel, he said, was "a small island of peace in a big sea of fire."

Though the hotel was attacked many times, Rusesabagina never gave up hope.

"Whenever we think that this is the end, I tell you, it is never the end," said Rusesabagina. "God always has a way to save his people"

Rusesabagina attributes his success at protecting the refugees to his ability to speak with those who would have stopped him. One time, Rusesagabina said, he talked with a would-be attacker for almost three hours. They eventually came to a peaceable solution.

"Whoever opens his or her mouth and is willing to discuss with you, you will always come up with an agreement," Rusesabagina said. "You will always come up with a compromise depending on how you deal with the situation."

During the Rwandan genocide, Rusesabagina said, around 800,000 people, close to 15 percent of the population of Rwanda, were killed. He asked students, "If 15 percent of the U.S. population were killed, what would the world do? Would the world close its eyes, turn backs, close ears and ignore what was happening?"

After telling his experiences, Rusesabagina told students to never lose hope, and encouraged them to "stand up and do whatever you can to save the situation of the world, especially in the whole of Africa."

"This world, if you don't stand up, will fail," Rusesabagina told students. "Do you want this world to succeed? It can. Or do you want it to fail? It will. Stand up and shape the world."

In a question and answer session after the forum, students asked Rusesabagina what he thought people could do to help.

"There are a lot of things each and every person can do to help," said Rusesabagina in response. "We should each be aware of the problems and find our own solutions."

rusesabagina.jpg
Photo by Paul Rusesabagina

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