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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

IDEAS Boston: Parfait Gasana

Parfait Gasana, co-founder of the Kigali Reading Center and recent graduate of the McCormack Graduate school. Gasana will give a talk at IDEAS Boston on October 28. 

Parfait Gasana, co-founder of the Kigali Reading Center and recent graduate of the McCormack Graduate school. Gasana will give a talk at IDEAS Boston on October 28. 

Parfait Gasana will speak at the IDEAS Boston conference on October 28. He holds the position of assistant director at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development. Gasana is also the president of the Kigali Reading Center, a nonprofit organization working to increase literacy rates among children in Rwanda. He founded the center while earning his Master’s in International Relations from the McCormack Graduate School. 
MM: What is your role as Assistant Director at Center?
PG: The Center for Peace, Democracy and Development focuses on promoting human security, conflict resolution, and building and strengthening democratic institutions around the world. The center also focuses on the academic and practical expertise needed to restore justice. The office connects a lot of expertise from different places and encourages people to not shy away from conflicts that are complex or difficult.
As the assistant director, I coordinate most of the work. I make sure the collaboration between people and between people and the university is going well. I also bring in projects and personal partnerships for the center.
MM: What is your role as president of the Kigali Reading Center (KRC)?
PG: I provide meaningful programming for children who otherwise do not have books and other educational materials. Most of the kids do not have books in their lives and some do not have parents who have gone to school. We give them books that we collect here in the United States, to learn from and transform their lives, one book at a time. I admit I was one of those children 10 years ago; I could not put words together or create a sentence. I benefited from a program that taught me English, before moving here to the U.S.
MM: Why did you found the KRC?
PG: I always knew that when I was in Rwanda, after the genocide took place about 20 years ago, that I wanted to make a difference. Rwanda has come a long way since the genocide, but restoration would be impossible without affecting the younger generation. Reading centers provide the opportunity for children who would otherwise not have a chance in the country.
MM: What will your talk at the conference be about?
PG: The title of my talk is about the gift of education. I will talk about my story starting the reading center with the support of my community and UMass, and the responsibility to help others. I will talk about the change that has taken place in Rwanda over the past 21 years and how if we look within ourselves, we have good resources that can change the world.
MM: Why should the UMass Boston community hear your talk? 
PG: I want to help people understand the truth, that they can do and see something good. You can’t waste time and wait on everyone else to see the changes you want to see. I also want to let people know what the KRC has done and how it would not have been possible without the spirit and innovation of UMass Boston students and staff.
MM: Future career plans?
PG: In the immediate future I will devote more time to the center, to ensure it responds to the various hot-spots around the world with the connections and resources we have. I see myself working in public service for a long time. My passion is doing the business of the people and changing the world by finding solutions to problems.
MM: What advice can you give to students who want to enter public service or change the world?
PG: If you want to change something you must be part of the solution. You cannot just complain about the injustices that go on around you. You must be willing to make the changes in communities. Lead those changes and take initiative.