Rwanda’s President Teleconferences with BU Seminar
Stephen Kinzer’s class questions Paul Kagame, in real time
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In the video above, an international relations class holds a teleconference with Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda.
At 7:40 a.m. last Monday, no one in Stephen Kinzer’s seminar was dozing off as he delivered final instructions beneath the sparkling chandeliers of the Metcalf Trustee Ballroom.
“Everyone will have a chance to ask their question,” he assured his students. “They can be sharp and focused as long as they are respectful, as a head of state deserves.”
Minutes later, students in Kinzer’s international relations seminar on Rwanda took turns engaging the African country’s president, Paul Kagame, via teleconference. Topics ranged from women’s rights to trade relations, rural development to nuclear energy.
Kinzer (CAS’73), a College of Arts & Sciences visiting professor of international relations, says the three-hour seminar often features a guest speaker with deep knowledge of Rwanda, but having Kagame participate was a major coup.
“I tried to do this in early autumn, when the president was at the United Nations, but it didn’t work out and I thought that was the end of it,” Kinzer says. “But I kept writing e-mails and eventually got back a note saying he was willing to do it.”
The longtime New York Times correspondent, who has reported from around the globe, established a connection with Kagame after interviewing him for A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It (Wiley, 2008).
Kagame, 51, is widely credited with bringing security and stability to Rwanda in the years following the 1994 genocide.
Edward A. Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.