posted August 31, 2005

Real-Life Star of "Hotel Rwanda" to Speak

The Hope College Critical Issues Symposium will get an early start this year when it hosts Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero of the Academy-award nominated film, "Hotel Rwanda." Rusesabagina will speak on "Hotel Rwanda: A Lesson Yet to Be Learned" on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

For two months of his life, Rusesabagina held insanity at bay as he watched his country fall into the grips of genocide in 1994. A Hutu manager of a luxury hotel in Rwanda, he sheltered more than 1,200 people, including his own Tutsi wife and children, saving their lives at a time when extremists massacred more than 800,000 members of the Tutsi and moderate Hutu tribes in just 100 days.

Considered the "Rwandan Schindler," so described after the industrialist in Germany who sheltered Jews from the Nazis during World War II, his wrenching story and that of the genocide is chronicled in the acclaimed film "Hotel Rwanda."

While militants threatened and surrounded the well-groomed grounds of the hotel, he spent hours on the phone, pleading with influential leaders, his international connections his only defense against attack. He bartered luxury items such as money, gold, cigars, and aged bottles of wine for the lives of strangers seeking refuge. No one housed at his hotel died during the massacre.

"Time Magazine" said the film was "a riveting story of courage."

Hope College's Knickerbocker Theatre will be showing the film "Hotel Rwanda" on Monday-Saturday, Sept. 5-10, and Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 12-13, with showings at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. The film is rated PG-13. Tickets for the movie are $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and children, and will be available at the door.

Rusesabagina's visit serves as an introduction to the annual Critical Issues Symposium (CIS), which will be held this year on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 27 and 28, and is titled "Auschwitz to Darfur: Genocide in the Global Village." The symposium will feature keynote addresses by Haruun Ruun, an RCA world mission program associate who serves as executive director of the New Sudan Council of Churches, and James Waller, a psychologist who recently published the acclaimed book, "Becoming Evil: Why Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing."

Those interested in more information on Rusesabagina or the CIS schedule should visit www.hope.edu/cis. All CIS events are free and open to the public.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located on College Avenue at 12th Street.