Fostering cooperation in divisive times

Submitted by Glenn Aufderhar, Lopez Island.

Twenty-seven years after the worst rampage of neighbors butchering neighbors which nearly wiped the nation off the map, Rwanda is a thriving example of recovery, security, peace and accountability.

Can its example help cities like Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis and Washington D.C. find a way forward to equity and tranquility? That is a question of intense research by an educational non-profit organization called, “World Outside My Shoes,” founded by Carl Wilkens

Wilkens is uniquely positioned to lead such a study. He is the only U. S. Aide worker to remain in Rwanda during the entire genocide and has continued to research the influences transforming that nation into one of Africa’s most progressive and rapidly growing countries.

Wilkens worked through the worst of days to get water, food and medicine to the orphans left when parents had been brutally hacked down by neighbors. Risking encounters with roving bands and roadblocks he went into conditions UN forces would not go just to save one more life.

A summary of his relief work as seen through the eyes of UN and U.S. State Department personnel can be seen at

His workshop focuses on how to address division in a way that heals the divide.

A 5-minute sample of his workshop can be viewed at

Because of the bonds formed during the turmoil Wilkens enjoys an insider’s view of this unfolding success story. With access to the entire spectrum of Rwandan life ranging from top government officials to the grateful survivors who are alive and productive today because he risked his life, he is able to take study groups to Rwanda to document the transformation.

To see if the principles worked outside of the African setting Wilkens has shared his observations in tense racial settings on other continents with positive success. In the United States, bullying and trolling have been lowered in schools. In the corporate world, a greater appreciation for the perspective of others has led to greater productivity.

Wilkens will share his “Hope-Based Process for Addressing Division” on Lopez and in Friday Harbor on Friday, Oct. 8. The workshop is free to the public but registration is requested to assure ample supplies are on hand for each participant who wishes to purchase a printed copy of the recommendations. In the event of a lock-down because of COVID, there will be a virtual edition. Registration will enable logging onto the internet version.

In collaboration with a number of educational institutions, corporations and friends he leads groups back to Rwanda frequently to see how this small land-locked nation in the center of Africa has been able to snatch peace from the jaws of chaos.

From that research Wilkens has developed a working model that can be used by an individual, a family, a community, or a corporation to rebuild trust, increase understanding and empathy, and minimize the risk of future tragedies.

Because COVID protocols will be in place, please reserve a seat at www.AttendSeminar.Live/Trust.