Postgraduate Ryan Topper completes internship in Rwanda

Congratulations to Ryan Topper, a PhD student from the School of English who has just completed an extremely successful two month internship at the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) in Rwanda. The CNLG’s mission is to prevent and fight against genocide, its ideology and denial, and overcome its consequences. To do so, the organisation manages genocide memorial sites throughout the country; oversees research on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and its aftermath in contemporary culture; fact checks independent publications on the genocide; hosts public events at schools and universities on topics such as Rwandan history and the danger of genocide ideology; preserves genocide artefacts and corpses; and many other related activities. As a research assistant, Ryan helped CNLG with English language writing and editing and learned much about the country along the way.

Ryan’s jobs varied from week to week and often day to day. They included participating in an international conference on digital archive preservation; editing articles on the legalisation of violence against the Tutsi prior to the genocide, denial laws after the genocide, and the persistence of trauma in contemporary Rwanda; writing speeches for the UN and the US embassy. As the beginning of April is the national week of mourning, the timing of his internship was perfect.

Ryan said: ‘I am grateful for the unique, practical experience in a third-world institution I was able to gain. As a PhD student of postcolonial literature and theory, specifically researching trauma in African literature, this experience was eye-opening. After many discussions with co-workers and strangers on the bus, at restaurants, or on the street, I came back to Leeds inspired by stories of survival.’