Rwandan hero Paul Rusesabagina to appear Jan. 30 at UTPA Distinguished Speaker Series
Posted: 01/15/2008
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The University of Texas-Pan American will continue its 2007-2008 Distinguished Speakers Series on Wednesday, Jan. 30 with the appearance of Paul Rusesabagina, famed humanitarian from Rwanda, Africa, who has been internationally honored for saving more than 1,000 civilians during the 1994 genocide that occurred in his native country.

Rusesabagina will speak at the UTPA Fine Arts Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The free event is open to the public but seating is limited. UTPA students, faculty and staff will be admitted with a valid University ID at 7 p.m. while the general public will be allowed to enter at 7:20 p.m.

- Paul Rusesabagina
Considered the Rwandan "Schindler," Rusesabagina used his influence and connections as temporary manager of the luxury hotel Mille Collines in Kilgali, Rwanda to shelter 1,268 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, including his own Tutsi wife and children, from being among the more than 800,000 slaughtered by the Interahamwe militia. Rusesabagina's story was chronicled in the Academy Award-nominated film Hotel Rwanda (2004), in which actor Don Cheadle memorably played the role of Rusesabagina.

Summoning great courage in the midst of one of his country's darkest periods, Rusesabagina was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President George W. Bush. His autobiography, "An Ordinary Man," written with Tom Zoellner, was published in April 2006.

Rusesabagina will speak about genocide and share his emotionally-stirring story firsthand with the hope of preventing and confronting similar atrocities in the future.

The Distinguished Speakers Series is underwritten by student fees, the Student Union, and the Office of the President. A Distinguished Speakers Series Committee made up of students, faculty and staff chooses the speakers.

The final speaker in this year's series will be leading Latina playwright and author Denise Chávez, who will speak Tuesday, March 25. Her appearance is part of a weeklong schedule of presentations, readings, performances and other cultural activities during FESTIBA (Festival of International Books and Arts) scheduled for March 24-29 at UTPA.

For more information or if special accommodations are needed, contact the Student Union office at 956/316-7989.