In the West Health and Technologies Center Lobby at the Western Campus, Heidi Rickard, the creative director of The Authenticity Project, provided a ground-breaking insight into one of the most taboo topics in our social discourse: genocide. The RICE experience seeks to enlighten its viewers to the many horrors of genocide throughout human history but more importantly, the circumstances that lead to these acts. This phenomenal lecture, which took place on November 7th, 2019, was offered at every Tri-C campus and has had a huge impact on the college student body as a whole. Beginning with the Armenian genocide, which is still not recognized as a genocide by the Turkish government, Rickard explained the ethnoreligious strife between Ottoman Muslims and the Armenian Christians and furthermore the methods used to exterminate the population. She went on to do the same for each major genocide in the modern era, from the Holocaust to the Rwandan Genocide and many more.
At the end of her address, using the phrase “One Grain equals One Life”, she poured out multiple bags of rice on a large blanket to represent each life lost in these acts of horror. By the account of many students who attended the event, it was an excellent example of utilizing shock and awe as an informative vessel. “It was really insightful and when you see the numbers that is one thing, but when you actually see a physical representation of the lives lost through genocide, in the form of the rice being poured out, it hits hard but it shows that these things matter” says Macon Hoover, an Honors Program student at the Western Campus.
As a whole, the event was quite descriptive and straightforward. However, the summative message was for everyone to learn to appreciate our differences but also to become educated on how best to advocate against genocide wherever it may be. Sydney Skelton, a first semester student and Student Government Senator at the Western Campus, had much to say with regards to this subject matter, “It was super emotional and has definitely affected me positively as I’ve gone out and done some research on ways that I personally can go out and help stop these genocides from happening wherever they are.” Let Rickard’s informative presentation stand as an example of how to pursue justice, equality, and basic human rights for all people regardless of race, religion, or any other characteristic.
For more information on the RICE Experience, and other projects by Heidi Rickard, visit: http://www.theauthenticityproject.org/