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Furman and SC Council on the Holocaust co-host author Carl Wilkens March 28

Carl Wilkens, author and non-governmental organization (NGO) leader during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, will speak on the Furman University campus Thursday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in Daniel Memorial Chapel on campus.

His talk, “Looking for the Good: The Journey from Neighbor to Killer,” is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Furman University Department of English, Furman’s Office of Spiritual Life and the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust.

Carl Wilkens

Wilkens’ book describes the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was the only American to stay behind in the country when the slaughter began.

For more than a decade, Wilkens has been sharing stories around the globe to inspire and equip people to “enter the world of The Other.” He led NGO Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA) in Rwanda and was the only American who chose to stay in Kigali, Rwanda throughout the genocide, which claimed 800,000 lives.

Working with Rwandan colleagues, Wilkens helped save hundreds of lives by bringing food, water and medicine to clusters of orphans trapped around the city.

To supply the needed aid, Wilkens ventured daily into streets amid mortars and gunfire and worked his way through roadblocks of angry soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles.

His journey weaves together stories fraught with risk and fierce compassion in the melee of senseless slaughter. In 2011, Carl completed a book detailing these times—”I’m Not Leaving.” A 40-minute same-titled documentary has since been released.

Wilkens’ storytelling does not stop with Rwanda’s tragic history, but it moves forward to the recovery process. Among the lessons he shares from his experience is the transformative belief that individuals are not defined by what they lose nor their worst choices—they can be defined by what they do with what remains following those terrible choices.

Each year, Wilkens returns to Rwanda with students and educators to witness how people are working together to rebuild their country and conquer the toughest challenge of all—to restore trust in humanity.

Wilkens has been featured in a New York Times profile; in PBS’s “Frontline: Ghosts of Rwanda;” and in “Defying Genocide,” a segment produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Among honorary doctorate degrees, Wilkens has also received the Medal of Valor from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the Dignitas Humana Award from the St. John’s School of Theology.

For more information, contact Melissa Browning in the Furman Department of English at 864-294-2066, and Or contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Last updated March 18, 2019
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director