Carl Wilkens, Rwanda Genocide survivor, presented at Walter G. O'Connell Copiague High School on Wednesday, October 26th, 2016.
When the Rwanda Genocide occurred in April of 1994, Wilkens and his family had been living there for almost four years. Though his family, including his wife and three children, had evacuated the region, Wilkens made the choice to remain with the Rwandan people, aiding the citizens by delivering food and supplies to those in need. His work was able to save hundreds of lives, and his experiences inspired him to encourage "Respect, Empathy, and Inclusion" in today's world.
Wilkens' presentation at Copiague High School not only covered the devastation of the Rwanda Genocide but, more importantly, revealed the underlying beauty of Rwanda and the sacrifices made during this time of horror, as well as their ongoing courage and forgiveness.
"We are not defined by what we [lost]," said Wilkens, regarding the words of his close friends and Rwandan survivor, Anitha, "We are defined by what we do with what we have."
Carl Wilkens performed an outstanding presentation and grasped the hearts of many students with his genuine and earnest personality. His emphasis on the actions of his friends and family showed the light that was able to shine through such a dark time.
His book, I'm Not Leaving, speaks of the decisions and actions made by Wilkens and the people he encountered. For more information about his educational non-profit organization, World Outside My Shoes, check out his site at http://www.worldoutsidemyshoes.org .