Watching Over Rwandans
by Ilene Sheffer and Michael Snyder
A true story of a Michiana educator and her students, this book looks at the Rwandan genocide from a different perspective: that of students from Rwanda studying in the United States at the time of the genocide. Many of the students lost some or all of their family members to brutal killings back home, but with the help of the dean of admissions at Southwestern Michigan College, Ilene Sheffer, the students themselves were spared potentially life-threatening deportation. Collected in this volume are the personal stories of seven Rwandan international students, along with Ilene Sheffer’s account of her own efforts to defend the students during the 1994 genocide—all of which proves that the bond between an exceptional educator and her students can attain heroic strength.
About the Authors
Ilene Sheffer was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and earned her bachelor of arts degree from Hunter College in New York City with a major in sociology and a minor in elementary education. She earned a master of arts in teaching and a doctorate in educational administration from Western Michigan University. Dr. Sheffer taught elementary school in New York, Philadelphia, and Michigan. She was a community school director, secondary school principal, a community college dean of admissions, and Vice President for Community Services and Development at Southwestern Michigan College, and the Vice President of Public Affairs and University Advancement at Indiana University South Bend. In retirement, Dr. Sheffer is the chief campaign strategist for the new Ronald McDonald House Michiana.
Michael Snyder earned a bachelor's degree in music, with a concentration in vocal performance, from The Catholic University of America, and a master's degree in liberal studies from Indiana University South Bend. A lyric tenor, he continues to concertize and also teaches singing. His short stories, articles, arts reviews, and commentaries have appeared in numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers. Watching Over Rwandans is his first book. He is president of From the Prairie Publications, Inc., in South Bend, Indiana.