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My mom just saw this movie and sent along the following review:

MOVIE REVIEW

'Beyond the Gates'

Set against the brutality in Rwanda, it shows that caring isn't enough.By Kevin Crust, Times Staff WriterIt would be a mistake to dismiss the drama "Beyond the Gates" simply because it is another instance of telling an African narrative through white protagonists.

Although that is the case, there is a particular point of view at work here that demonstrates the filmmakers are fully aware of the burden they're placing on the story. It's a record of one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history but, more trenchantly, a rebuke of the ineffective reaction of the international community.
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Set in spring 1994 in the volatile nation of Rwanda, the story inspired by actual events focuses on a young British teacher named Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy) serving a one-year residency at a technical school in Kigali. The school is run by a Catholic priest, Father Christopher (John Hurt), and is temporarily serving as a base for a U.N. peace force under the command of a sympathetic, if rigid, Belgian officer, Capt. Delon (Dominique Horwitz).

Long-standing tensions in the country between the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis reach a boiling point and rumors of atrocities spread rapidly. After the death of the Rwandan president in a suspicious plane crash, 2,500 Tutsi refugees descend on the school seeking sanctuary.

The powerful, well-crafted film, written by David Wolstencroft from a story by David Belton and Richard Alwyn and directed by veteran Scottish filmmaker Michael Caton-Jones, is brutally honest and emotionally raw. It explores the often futile gesture of caring deeply about the plight of others while being incapable of actually doing something as well as the near-death of hope among even the most devout.

Hurt is in fine form as a man who has devoted more than 30 years to serving God in an inhospitable place and learned to navigate local politics but is stymied by the global bureaucracy of the U.N. A beacon of what he has hoped to accomplish is present in one of his students, Marie, played by young Clare-Hope Ashitey, who recently starred in "Children of Men" and brings some of the same transcendence exhibited there to this part.

Dancy has perhaps the most challenging role in the idealistic Joe. It is through Joe's eyes that we experience the country and its sorrow. We may scoff at his do-gooder naivete, but when he faces the helplessness and frustration of being unable to save the Tutsis seeking his help, his pain and guilt cut deep.

The film comes down hardest on the U.N. As its man on the ground, Delon is a military bureaucrat whose hands are tied by the organization's mandate of disengagement unless fired upon. His own frustration is palpable, but his repeated argument that he is following orders rings hollow. A news conference with a U.N. representative not-so-nimbly dancing around the use of the word "genocide" illustrates the group's inability to move past semantics and speaks volumes about what went wrong in Rwanda.

Tense and gut-wrenching, "Beyond the Gates" is a horrifying story told with grace and compassion. If it makes the obvious comparison between the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust, it also suggests more complex parallels to contemporary situations throughout the world that demand international attention but seldom receive it as well as conditions in which foreign intercession has made matters worse. It forces us to keep looking after the TV cameras have turned away and wrestle with the difficult questions of what should be done in the future.

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Movie Review: “Beyond the Gates”

Megan E. Fettig,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

My mom just saw this movie and sent along the following review: MOVIE REVIEW ‘Beyond the Gates’ Set against the brutality in Rwanda, it shows that caring isn’t enough.By Kevin Crust, Times Staff WriterIt would be a mistake to dismiss the drama "Beyond the Gates" simply because it is another instance of telling an African […]

Posted On

07/24/09

Author

Megan E. Fettig

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Hello! I just spoke with the instructor team who reports that everyone is doing well. Students are still staying in home-stays in Jomba, a small town of about 400 people. Yesterday they visited a tea plantation and factory before walking 8 kilometers to have lunch with Celestin’s grandmother. Today Celestin gave a lesson on community service and Guen started her three part lesson on international development. In the afternoon, the kids did a mock “gacaca” trial and they now have a readingand twoassignments to complete once they are back in their home-stay compounds. The academics are balanced with slow-paced rural life – kids are shelling beans with their home-stay families, helping to cook, and are sitting in their compounds with host siblings. Each student’s home is about a 10 minute walk from where the instructors are staying.

On Monday, the group will move from Jomba to the orphanage where they plan on staying until Thursday afternoon before heading to the final component of their trip – diving into Kigali life!

I get the sense that it's lovely where they are - surrounded by rolling hills covered with growing green tea leaves and not far from a rushing river. The group is in good spirits and enjoying their last few days of rural living.

Megan

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Jomba update (rural home-stays)

Megan E. Fettig,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

Hello! I just spoke with the instructor team who reports that everyone is doing well. Students are still staying in home-stays in Jomba, a small town of about 400 people. Yesterday they visited a tea plantation and factory before walking 8 kilometers to have lunch with Celestin’s grandmother. Today Celestin gave a lesson on community […]

Posted On

07/24/09

Author

Megan E. Fettig

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I spent the afternoon at Celestin's sister's place, enjoying the sunshine and the mountain views. Then, after a delicious lunch of beans and potatoes topped with hot sauce and avocado, Celestin's brother-in-law walked me over to Reilly's place so I could lend him a book. We visited with his family, and then popped in down at Clare's, where she was chilling with a book, on a straw mat, surrounded by her host sisters and mom. Mom and sister were shelling peas, and Clare was helping the girls with their English studies, even though it is school holidays here. Chris and Jordan, who are home-stay cousins, went to visit their Grandma today, and Ali was having lunch at Ray's. Celestin visited with the mayor on our behalf and explained what Dragons is all about, and then popped in on Samantha and Mary Ellen. As I type, Celestin is visiting the rest of the team in their homes. Tomorrow should be an exciting day; we visit a tea processing facility high in the hills, and then, Celestin's grandmother has invited us for lunch!! I'm feeling relaxed, and happy, and that's the general vibe of the group right now. We're relaxing into our home-stays (we're here 'til Monday), really enjoying this beautiful place, and in disbelief that our time in Rwanda ends 2 weeks from Friday.

Love from Jomba,
Guen

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Afternoon Wanderings

Guen Butler,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

I spent the afternoon at Celestin’s sister’s place, enjoying the sunshine and the mountain views. Then, after a delicious lunch of beans and potatoes topped with hot sauce and avocado, Celestin’s brother-in-law walked me over to Reilly’s place so I could lend him a book. We visited with his family, and then popped in down […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Guen Butler

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Muraho! I just spoke with Guen on the phone and thought you might enjoy an update...

Having recently finished a few days of village to village hiking outside of Ruhengeri, the students have now settled into rural home-stays and are staying with the friends and neighbors of Celestin’s sister in the small “town” of Jomba. The group has been warmly welcomed, in fact, Celestin’s sister had some trouble choosing families to host our students because everyone insisted on having a guest. (I’ve encountered this “problem” in the past with setting up home-stay families in Senegal – it’s quite a welcoming feeling!) All the families gathered with the instructors and have been briefed on Dragons regulations and the students all know how to locate the instructors. The houses don’t have running water, there are outdoor latrines, most don’t have electricity and all the cooking is done over charcoal in outdoor kitchens. After having had a solid span of constant group activity during the hike, students are now being encouraged to revisit their personal goals and individual attention is being given regarding their ISP (independent study project) topics. They have had a slightly more academic focus the past couple of days and today had a lesson by Celestin on the administrative structure of the Rwandan government.

Surrounded by stunning green tea hills, students plan on touring tea fields and a tea factory tomorrow morning before having lunch with Celestin’s 80 year old grandmother. The weather is cool in these northern hills, students shopped for fleece jackets in the Butare market before leaving their urban home-stays and the fleecewill come in handy over the next couple of days.

There is one computer in the town of Jomba in the office where Celestin’s sister works, therefore all of the students won’t be able to post Yaks untilclose toJuly 31st.

It's hard to believe that the program is half-way over! We have just finished reviewing bothstudent and parent mid-course evaluations as an administration (thank you for those of you who completed the forms!) and the three instructors have sat down and gone over each student's imput. Nearly all the students reported that the highlight of their trip thus far has either been the home-stays in Butare and/or visiting the Murambi memorial site (which was structured with a lot of group time for briefing and debriefing since itcan bean extremely emotionally challenging experience).

Instructors are required to report back to me regarding their plan of action addressingareas of growth. The other day, while waiting for public transport, Guen had the kids each say what they'd like to learn from the instructors over the weeks remaining. Next week, she plans on teaching them what she has learned from working within the health care system when she was employed by the Clinton Foundation (http://www.clintonfoundation.org/).

We hope this finds you all well and that our students continue to expand their world view and dive into profound connections with locals.

Umunsi Mwiza! (Have a good day!)

Megan

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Update from the field

Megan Fettig,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

Muraho! I just spoke with Guen on the phone and thought you might enjoy an update… Having recently finished a few days of village to village hiking outside of Ruhengeri, the students have now settled into rural home-stays and are staying with the friends and neighbors of Celestin’s sister in the small “town” of Jomba. […]

Posted On

07/21/09

Author

Megan Fettig

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Trekking in Rwanda is not what I had imagined. When I think of trekking I think of wilderness but in Rwanda almost 98 percent of the land is cultivated. Being the most densely populated country in Africa, Rwanda does not offer much, if any, of such wilderness outside of the National parks. However, we are flexible, so we "trekked" anyway. We walked along roads with our packs on our backs admiring the beautiful countryside's lakes, hills, and volcanos. We gathered up to 80 children at a time who left what they were doing to follow the crowd of 'umuzungus' as they traversed down the road. What a strange sight we must have been!

Today we leave for our village homestays. I am excited to meet my new temporary family and become one of them for the next 5 days! After the village homestay we will be in an orphanage for another 5 days so we will probably not be able to access internet for at least 10 days.

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Trekking

Ali Pierson,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

Trekking in Rwanda is not what I had imagined. When I think of trekking I think of wilderness but in Rwanda almost 98 percent of the land is cultivated. Being the most densely populated country in Africa, Rwanda does not offer much, if any, of such wilderness outside of the National parks. However, we are […]

Posted On

07/20/09

Author

Ali Pierson

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To keep you informed and to say, "We're okay":

What we were up to:

-Trekking near beautiful lakes

-Trekking near volcanoes

-Trekking through the countryside of Ruhengeri

-Jumping into a small, wooden boats patched up with vegetable oil cans and cruising in the lake

-Wove baskets with local women in Ruhengeri

-Squeezed WAY too many people in a mini-bus that holds a WAY less amount of people.

What we are up to now:

-Beginning another homestay adventure! This time, at a village! Time to take out those Kinyarwanda Language Lesson books!

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Volcanoes, Hills, Achy Feet, Oh my!

Samantha Lee,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

To keep you informed and to say, "We’re okay": What we were up to: -Trekking near beautiful lakes -Trekking near volcanoes -Trekking through the countryside of Ruhengeri -Jumping into a small, wooden boats patched up with vegetable oil cans and cruising in the lake -Wove baskets with local women in Ruhengeri -Squeezed WAY too many […]

Posted On

07/20/09

Author

Samantha Lee

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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More photos

Liz Connor,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

Posted On

07/20/09

Author

Liz Connor

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Question: Muharo ? ("Are you alive and well?")
Answer: Yego! ("Yes!")

A bit of a window into our most recent days …


Today we wove colorful baskets with laughing women. Yesterday, we walked along the base of several volcanoes, through Batwa villages, near the area where Dian Fossey did her research on gorillas. At one point in the day, we turned a corner and there was a line of women in bright colorful outfits singing outside of a church. It was a truly beautiful moment. We rode in canoes in lakes surrounded by terraced hills, we walked with kids singing “happy birthday”, we slept in “town hall”, we shared many pineapples, we drew crowds wherever we went. We have been tired then exhilarated, filled with joy and also pensive, exhausted and then rejuvenated. We have done all of this, and we still have a few weeks to go!!!!

On Monday afternoon, we will travel to our next home stay, which is a short bus ride from Ruhengeri. We will all settle in with our families and live life in the way that they do; farming, cooking outside on charcoal, and living a little more simply and slowly than we have up until this point. Instructors have lessons planned for this time as well to discuss development and other topics. We will likely have little to no internet access during this point in the program, so please hold tight until our next update!

Until next time!! Team Rwanda

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Window on our life here

Liz Connor,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

Question: Muharo ? ("Are you alive and well?")Answer: Yego! ("Yes!") A bit of a window into our most recent days … Today we wove colorful baskets with laughing women. Yesterday, we walked along the base of several volcanoes, through Batwa villages, near the area where Dian Fossey did her research on gorillas. At one point […]

Posted On

07/19/09

Author

Liz Connor

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-15 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => Located on the top of one of Rwanda's thousand hills, is Murambi Memorial. Murambi is a former technical school which never really got a chance to be a technical school because of the events of 1994. 50,000 people died there. No. I don't mean 50,000 people just died, I mean 50,000 people were brutally murdered at this site. It was made sure that the Hutus left the presumed "safe zone", so that resources and water could be cut off from the Tutsis who remained. To survive, they had to drill for water, which they were too afraid to do because that required being outdoors, in the open. They had to do a head count to "know how many people needed to be fed", but it was really just so the Hutus could make sure they didn't leave anyone alive. When we arrived, there were purple flags everywhere, symbolizing mourning and a much taller Rwandan flag. The center was empty, except for the guides, and one other "umuzungu" who had just finished the tour and was signing the guest book as we arrived. Our tour guide was a survivor from that event. She explained to us (in kinyarwanda which Celestin translated) what had happened that night at 3 in the morning when the attack began, until midday the next day when it finally ceased. I did not know what to expect. The woman guided us to small brick structures behind the main building into locked rooms. The rooms were filled with tables, where bodies lay. We recieved two warnings: the first, was from Guen, who said that Megan had been and said "it was one of the most horrifying things she has ever seen", and second was from Celestin, who told us that the bodies would be significantly shorter because of the 15 years they had been laying there. They were undoubtedly human, but they were all white and barely any flesh was left on the bones. Occasionally, there was a piece of clothing or hair still on the head. They were all white because of some chemical used to preserve the bodies. The smell was overwhelming. It seems there were endless rooms. The woman unlocked one after the other with no expression. The bodies varied from children, to women with children, to crushed sculls, hands begging for mercy, bodies curled in fetal position, some were so mangled, they were unidentifiable. It was seriously horrifying. Every one of us had varying reactions. The rest of the plans for the day were suspended. I know all I felt like doing was showering and sleeping. The visit was prefaced by some activities about death at the program house and a discussion, which helped me process what I saw. There were 2,000 bodies in the rooms. That is only 1/25th of the casualties that day at that single site. One of the most discusting things to think about, was the site where the French played volleyball over a mass grave. Another thing was that people fled to this school for safety, when it was really their death trap. I couldn't stop thinking about our tour guide woman. Her job is to re-tell the story of the death of her friends and family (and could have so easily been her fate, too) to several groups of umuzungus daily who will always be profoundly affected, but they willl never understand, and our group will never understand, either. The moving pictures of movies like Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April and stories from the NY Times and our reader were all materialized at Murambi. It is amazing how unified this country feels, despite the turmoil and horrific recent past. They are picking themselves up, and that makes now such an exiting time to visit Rwanda. The only thing I can think of is how strong our tour guide is. 
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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Murambi Memorial Site

Jordan Strafer,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

Located on the top of one of Rwanda’s thousand hills, is Murambi Memorial. Murambi is a former technical school which never really got a chance to be a technical school because of the events of 1994. 50,000 people died there. No. I don’t mean 50,000 people just died, I mean 50,000 people were brutally murdered […]

Posted On

07/15/09

Author

Jordan Strafer

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-14 00:00:00
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Tonight the students organized a farewell reception for our host families;
it seems impossible that we were ever strangers!! Gifts were given,
speeches were made (in Kinyarwanda, by our students!!), and tears were shed.
We had a farewell lunch with the boys at Intiganda, and said goodbye to the
girls at the nearby girls’ center. We leave behind the Matar Supermarket
(where Jordan and I discovered (quite by accident) the avocado milkshake)
and the Hotel Faucon, whose lovely backyard has been an oasis for us, and
Cybercafe La Planete, whose French keyboards are the bane of my email
checking (I’m all for cultural differences, but, seriously, you shouldn’t
have to press the shift key to type a period).

Tomorrow we visit the harrowing memorial site at Murambi, and will spend the
afternoon debriefing, and the night sleeping over at the program house
before traveling to Musanze (formerly named Ruhengeri) for some quality time
breathing fresh mountain air.

Endings are gateways to new beginnings, and as bittersweet as goodbye is,
I’m excited for the next part of our adventure!!

PS to the families of our students back in the US: I want to express my
gratitude. Your kids are amazing. I’m proud to be traveling with them in
this place I’ve come to love so dearly. You would be, too.

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Rwanda, Summer 2009

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Saying Goodbye…

Guen Butler,Rwanda, Summer 2009

Description

Tonight the students organized a farewell reception for our host families;it seems impossible that we were ever strangers!! Gifts were given,speeches were made (in Kinyarwanda, by our students!!), and tears were shed.We had a farewell lunch with the boys at Intiganda, and said goodbye to thegirls at the nearby girls’ center. We leave behind the […]

Posted On

07/14/09

Author

Guen Butler

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