Genocide Survivor Shares His Story

Students gathered in Hancock on April 12  in remembrance of those who died in the Rwandan Genocide just 25 years ago. This year, the school welcomed guest speaker, Daniel Ndamwizeye, better known professionally as Daniel Trust. Trust said in his talk, “Sometimes I would cry and pray, ‘why am I alive, why did I not get killed’ through it all I always had hope that it would be better for me one day.”

Trust was born and raised in Rwanda and is a survivor of the Genocide. He immigrated to the United States when he was 15 as a refugee.

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Trust Speaking to Attendees

Trust was five years old when the genocide began. He was the youngest of eight children. His father was Hutu and his mother was a Tutsi. Just before the Genocide started, Trust recalls his parents calling him and siblings into the living room. “They asked us to pray because something terrible was going to happen to us. We prayed for protection and my parents were Seventh-day Adventists, and we lived close to the church. Many people at the time thought that if they went to a place of worship they would be safe. Myself, my mom and two sisters, we went to hide at the church we worship at.”

After a few days in the Church, people with machetes came and took everyone they found outside and began killing them one by one, he recounted. He recalls how frustrated he was hearing his mother’s screams, but was unable to do anything. “At the time in Rwanda, the killers had no mercy, if they knew you were Tutsi somehow someway they would kill you. That moment of my mom being killed was the last memory I have of her.”

Trust hid along with two of his sisters, however, they would be caught trying to run away and killed. His father also was caught trying to find safety and was killed as well. The people who killed his family would go on to steal all their possessions and set their house on fire.

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Students Listen Attentively to Trust

However, Trust speaks with a positive outlook. He said, “When I share my story I always say I survived by the grace of God because I could have been killed as well.”

Eventually, Trust was able to make it the Congo for safety until after the genocide was over. However, he still faced a number of hardships. “I was constantly beaten for doing anything. If I was washing dishes and I do not do it correctly, I was beaten for it. If I was being helped with homework and I said two plus two equals five instead of four, I would get beaten. I was not allowed to have friends, and life was just very hard for me. And because of everything I was going through I performed very poorly in school. Sometimes I would cry and pray, ‘why am I alive, why did I not get killed’ through it all I always had hope that it would be better for me one day.”

In 2005 Trust was able to move to Connecticut. He attended high school, and by the time he graduated he was very involved academically and with extracurricular activities. He was then able to receive a number of scholarships, allowing him to attend Southern Connecticut State University. There he graduated in 5 years and worked full-time will working towards his degree. At the age of 19, he got a job at TD Bank and worked there for many years. In 2013 he was able to buy his first home. After purchasing it, he went to a grocery store and bought himself a cake to celebrate. He also buys himself a cake for his birthday every year. Trust emphasizes the importance of focusing on the positive things in life and celebrating yourself.

Trust his now a youth advocate, an international speaker and is the President and CEO of the Daniel Trust Foundation. His foundation is a non-profit for low-income students and teachers that are or hope to make big impacts on the community and individuals who may not have the same advantages as other students.

“I would not be here today if it was not for all the people who invested in me,” Trust said.

 

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Marist Fashion Mourns Senior Professor

Senior Professional Lecturer of Fashion, Richard Kramer, died in his sleep, the night of Feb. 27, 2019. He was in his early 70’s. Students and faculty who knew him say Kramer was an outstanding professor that impacted student lives beyond the classroom.

Radley Cramer, the Director of the Marist Fashion Program, was a close friend, and colleague, of Kramer for more than a decade. Cramer had a contact that was able to check on Kramer and reported back on his passing. Kramer had a career in teaching at Marist of nearly 20 years and was described by Cramer as “a longstanding pillar of the Fashion Program.”

Kramer was described as someone who was larger than life, which caused him to live a life that was anything but ordinary.

Cramer said:

“As a specialist in costume history, Richard represented the classic “sage on the stage” — presenting engaging, sometimes very entertaining theatrical descriptions of historical periods and how fashion reflected the spirit of the times. He brought the history of costume to life. He was an expert, with precise presentation and master of his teaching. He added a lot of emotion, which the faculty admired.”

 

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Kramer (Left) with Cramer (Right) Photo Courtesy of Marist Fashion

Josiah Turbak, a senior fashion merchandising student, was a student of Kramer in previous semesters. Turbak desired Kramer to be extremely caring and thoughtful and was the kind of professor that was always willing to stay after class with students.

Michaela Ceci, now a senior fashion student, had Kramer during her first semester as a freshman and again last semester. “He really helped me grow as a student. He was one of my favorite teachers honestly because he really taught with his heart and soul.  His class was like story time, throughout the whole period I would be captivated and it made it so much easier for me to learn and retain the information. That really set him apart for me.”

An aspect of Kramer’s teaching that many students of his commented on, was his efforts in building a relationship with his students, and his encouragement of student opinions.

“He really wanted to hear our opinion on things and share things we were passionate about to the class,” said Ceci.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Marist Fashion

Turbak describes Kramer’s teaching to be rare, saying he would speak about life more than the lessons. Kramer focused on how things will be used in the world after college, and what students can and should take away from everything they are experiences. Turbak concurs to Ceci experience with Kramer by speaking of how Kramer would ask for their opinions on topics beyond the classroom. Kramer was engaged in what was going on and put forth efforts to keep himself engaged.

Kramer retired in 2017, however, he still continued to teach two courses, History of Costume and History of Modern Fashion. Both these classes are noted for having students of various majors, stemming far beyond just the fashion department. Cramer will be taking over his classes for the remainder of the semester.

Kramer will be greatly missed by faculty and students, beyond just the fashion program. As Cramer said, “Somewhere Richard is rehearsing a new play, planning a show or telling a great story.”

 

SNAP Students Assist Security

If a student ever feels unsafe at night walking on the Marist campus, there are students available to help make the other students feel safe. Marist College’s SNAP or Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol, is a program designed to improve the safety of the Marist Community, especially at night. SNAP employees are students who are being utilized by the Security Office to assist in mobility impairments and escorting students who feel unsafe walking on campus at night.

“SNAP helps the community because I’m making students and faculty feel comfortable walking around at night,” said Phil Egloff, a Junior and SNAP employee.

According to the SNAP brochure, published by Marist Security, “(SNAP Employees) are held to the highest of Marist standards and are equipped with radios, flashlights, and safety jackets in addition to specialized training.”

 

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(Left) Phil Egloff  with his partner Justin Kirsh, both class of 2020

In order to be hired under SNAP, Junior Sandra Akariza said all she had to fill out the application and go in for an interview if they make it past the initial application process. Then, after being hired, each student goes through a training session. Carly Heintz, a senior, said: “In addition to an intro meeting to explain all the rules, we shadowed experienced SNAPers in all of the campus areas.”

Golf carts are also available for SNAP employees to use, particularly when escorting a student around campus during the day that is injured, therefore it is difficult for the student to walk from class to class. Heintz also stated that when students begin using the carts, there are additional training sessions for it, and if an employee does not feel comfortable driving, they do not have to drive until they feel comfortable doing so.

It has become a common opinion for students to view the SNAP job as easy because there is not much work associated with it because employees are often seen just walking around the campus at night and passing through different buildings. However, the job is more than that and can become serious at times if a situation arises.

Akariza emphasizes that apart of the information session, each SNAP employee made well informed on the purpose of SNAP and how it will benefit the Marist community. The increase of a presence on campus will make students feel safer and that there are more options to go to rather than security. Hopefully, this can lead to a friendlier environment where more students know students and are comfortable going to one another and walking on campus at night.

While one of the main functions of SNAP is to escort students on campus, it is a rarity to see a SNAP employee walking with someone. Akariza mentions the importance of staying visible to students, however, the number of people want escorts to differ a lot and varies month to month. “(Number of escorts) add up between shifts. Numbers rose during the clown scare”, reported Heintz.

 

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Marist Office of Safety and Security

There could be an unnerving feeling that students are hired to take care of other students. However, all SNAP employees work in pairs, so there is never just one person, and the Office of Safety and Security are there as well, if assistance is ever needed beyond the SNAP employees, or if there are questions about what to do in a situation.

Safety and Security emphasis that SNAP is not there to enforce policies by the school, rather act as increased eyes and ears on the grounds. They are able to report dangerous situations or potential situations to the Office of Safety and Security, in order to maintain a connection between the student body and the office. Student SNAP escorts are available beginning Sunday night through Friday morning. However, when the student escorts are not available due to the time of the day security officers will take the place of SNAP employees in escorting students.