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iDebate Rwanda Team to Leap into Action at Duquesne; University to Recognize Coordinator with Extraordinary Honor

A debate team from Rwanda, crossing the U.S. on a tour, will stop for the second time in two years at Duquesne University for a debate that serves a higher purpose.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m., in the Duquesne Towers Multipurpose Room, the Duquesne Debating Society and iDebate Rwanda will present Voices from a Post-genocide Generation, tackling the topic Those Who Cannot Remember the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It. Additionally, the international coordinator for iDebate Rwanda will become the first recipient of an award named for a founder of the Spiritan congregation that started Duquesne.

"The primary purpose of iDebate Rwanda is the cultivation of democratic practices that stand a chance of curtailing violence throughout the region and enhancing social justice for average East Africans," said Dr. John Rief, advisor to the Duquesne Debating Society and visiting assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies.

Because of that higher purpose, the debate team will honor Jean Michel Habineza as the inaugural Francis Libermann Fellow and Honorary Coach. Habineza, who actively promotes genocide commemoration in Rwanda, helped to create iDebate Rwanda.

A Rwanda native, Habineza attended Towson University, where he debated at the highest levels of U.S. competition. After completing college, he returned to Africa and built the iDebate Rwanda program while promoting access to higher education.

"Jean Michel's commitment to genocide education and prevention, his work to educate thousands of students throughout East Africa, and his understanding of the connection between dialogue, faith and social justice have made him an outstanding candidate for this recognition," Rief said. "His work fits with the mission of Duquesne University, in particular his focus on global concerns, his mission to provide professional skills to students in underserved regions of East Africa, his investment in making faith a part of his educational platform and his commitment to 'walking the margins' both in East Africa and the U.S.

"We believe that these elements of Jean Michel's career and life connect directly with Spiritan founder Francis Libermann's commitment to service and education in Africa," Rief continued. "It would be an honor to count him as the first Francis Libermann Fellow and Honorary Coach of the Duquesne Debating Society."

Habineza has worked with the Duquesne debate students as well-a critical factor for this award-solidifying links between the Duquesne campus and Africa, a part of the University's strategic plan.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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