Confronting a paradox often gives one pause for thought, but in the case of senior Seth Woody the experience did more: It changed the course of his life at, and beyond, Boston College.
The summer after his freshman year at BC, Woody and his family went to Rwanda with his father, an Episcopal priest, to meet missionaries and others working to help the country continue recovering from the genocide of 1994 that resulted in an estimated 800,000 deaths.
Although Woody knew — or thought he did — about the genocide, witnessing its impact even more than 15 years later was at times overwhelming. But despite the pall, many people Woody encountered expressed hope for Rwanda’s future.
“I hadn’t expected to find this contradiction,” recalls Woody, a San Antonio native. “As a Christian, I was familiar with the idea that there is hope in suffering, but in Rwanda it just seemed unfathomable. When we came back, all I could think was, ‘How do I resolve this dilemma of hope and despair I saw?’”
The visit to Rwanda compelled Woody to make some important decisions. One was to change his major, from political science to theology. The other was to seek a way back to Rwanda and try to find out how such optimism about the human condition could flower in this unlikely setting.
Woody will share the discoveries and impressions from his quest via a weeklong exhibition that opens tomorrow in the Bapst Library Student Art Gallery. The exhibition includes photos taken by Woody and audio excerpts of interviews he conducted during his return to Rwanda last summer with people involved in reconciliation and social justice efforts.