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Healing and Reconciliation Through Dance: TCU Honors Global Innovator Godelieve Mukasarasi

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Godelieve Mukasarasi, center, receives the 2018 TCU Global Innovator Award, with students from the TCU School for Classical & Contemporary Dance. Image credit: Alex Masi

 

During the Spring Concert staged by the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance (SCCD), TCU honored 2018 Global Innovator award recipient Godelieve Mukasarasi, a humanitarian and advocate for victims’ rights. The Global Innovators program brings a groundbreaking individual undertaking transformative work in their region to the TCU campus every semester to engage across the campus.

The Global Innovator Award is part of TCU’s Discovering Global Citizenship Initiative, an enterprise begun in 2013 to fulfill the university mission of creating “ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.” The award is an important part of that mission, bringing students into contact with world-changers while also supporting their work.

As part of the Global Innovator project, Susan Douglas Roberts, Professor of Dance, and Adam McKinney, Assistant Professor of Dance, were awarded a $25,000 grant, used to fund a project that sustains the connection between the TCU community and the Global Innovator, Mukasarasi. This project, designed through the award recipient’s visit to the TCU campus, will advance Mukasarasi’s work with SEVOTA in Rwanda.

A group of TCU professors, staff, and alumni stand with honoree Godelieve Mukasarasi

(L-R) Dean Anne Helmreich, Elizabeth Gillaspy, John Singleton, 2018 Global Innovator Godelieve Mukasarasi, Adam McKinney, Susan Douglas Roberts, Suzanne Ehringer. Image credit: Alex Masi

The 10th recipient of the Global Innovator award, Mukasarasi has dedicated her career to the promotion of healing and peace in Rwanda through the non-profit organization SEVOTA. SEVOTA, which Mukasarasi founded in 1994, promotes the socio-economic rights of all Rwandans affected by the 1994 genocide, particularly female victims of sexual violence. SEVOTA also provides mental health support, medical access for those infected with HIV/AIDS, job opportunities, youth programs and community mobilization towards social change.

Mukasarasi has also been a vital contributor in facilitating women’s testimonies to the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda, and her efforts have helped ensure that women’s voices and the truths about the crimes committed against them during the 1994 genocide are heard.

“Godelieve Mukasarasi is a global innovator in every sense of the word. Through Godelieve’s leadership, we continue to learn more about the importance of leading reconciliation work through a lens of compassion and non-violence,” McKinney

Mukasarasi’s story was first shared with the TCU community through the 2014 showing of the documentary “The Uncondemned.” The film was brought to campus by co-directors Nick Louvel and Michele Mitchell, in collaboration with John Singleton, TCU’s Director of International Services and the Discovering Global Citizenship Initiative. McKinney and Douglas Roberts recognized an affinity between their work and Mukasarasi’s use of local dance practices as a means to aid victim recovery. In January of this year, Douglas Roberts, McKinney, Singleton and a group of TCU students and alumni travelled to Rwanda, to meet with Mukasarasi and learn more about SEVOTA’s work.

TCU student Pacifique Rutamu (center) leads Irené Kwihangana (standing left) and Janvier Rutsobe in celebratory dance as Odile Mukiza (seated left) and Darlene Ninziza Kamanzi look on.

“When traveling in Rwanda in January, our group of faculty, staff, students and guests of TCU were greeted at both of the SEVOTA gatherings we attended with dance and song. There was an immediate connection for us with the members of these communities. We are able to ‘listen’ in a different way. We were also able to dance for and with the community as part of our engagement with them,” said Douglas Roberts.

As part of the award presentation during concert, the connective power of dance was displayed through a performance from TCU’s own students from Rwanda. After this performance, Dr. Anne Helmreich, Dean of the College of Fine Arts presented Mukasarasi with the award.

“I was inspired by Godelieve’s vision for community healing through dance and music. We look forward to supporting SEVOTA’s programming in [the community of] Taba, and throughout Rwanda, with a specific focus on supporting young people’s education,” said McKinney.

Mukasarasi will return to TCU in November 2018 and will continue her work with the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance, emphasizing student engagement.