Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2018

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Transylvania University’s 2018 Kenan conversation will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder and Deogratias Niyizonkiza, the subject of his book, "Strength in What Remains."

The discussion, which is part of the university’s William R. Kenan Jr. Lecture Series, will be Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in Haggin Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Niyizonkiza fled the killing fields of Burundi in the early '90s to New York, where he lived for a while in Central Park before being taken in by a couple, learning English and completing undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and philosophy at Columbia University. He then attended Harvard to study public health and Dartmouth for medical school.

Niyizonkiza returned to his homeland to found Village Health Works, a community health center in an area with limited access to quality medical care.

“The story of Deogratias Niyizonkiza is the story of how generosity changes lives and how changed lives make the world a more generous place,” Transylvania professor Jeremy Paden said. “The kindness of strangers and friends helped Deo escape Burundi at the height of killings, get on his feet in New York City and attend Columbia and Harvard. Through Village Health Works he is giving back to his community using medicine, community agriculture and sustainable development practices to heal and bring hope and peace.”

Generosity, which is the theme of this academic year, will be the topic of the conversation.

On March 1, Transylvania students will meet with Kidder and Niyizonkiza before the main event in the evening. Niyizonkiza (pictured right) will talk to them about issues such as sustainable development, the environment, peace studies and public health in the developing world. Kidder will meet with students interested in creative writing. In addition to the Pulitzer, his other honors include the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

Transylvania’s William R. Kenan Jr. Lecture Series is funded by a grant from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust. Previous speakers have included: Claudia Rankine, an award-winning poet; Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and activist; Michele Norris, a National Public Radio correspondent and best-selling author; CNN analyst Peter Bergen; Mary Robinson, Ireland’s first female president; and actress Mary McDonnell.

Parking for Haggin Auditorium, which is in the Mitchell Fine Arts Center, is available in an adjacent lot off West Fourth Street near Upper Street.

Reserve free tickets here.