On Thursday October 24th, 2013, my friend Jany Deng ( Mr. Jany Deng is a Program Manager of the Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development) and I were invited by Ms. Susan McClellan, a teacher at Tolleson Union High School, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, to share our Lost Boys’ lives experiences with her students. There were over three hundred students in the hall. They were such disciplined and well behaved kids I have ever addressed. The reason why we were invited was to testify our living experiences during the war, and to educate these students on the life journey of world’s great leaders, and especially people that can change the world. Our presentations positively impacted the lives of these students; you can tell through the looks in their faces and how they asked questions afterward.
In the beginning of the presentation, we played a short video narrating the life journey of the three succeeding Lost Boys of South Sudan; Mr. Kuol Awan (Arizona State, USA), Mr. Mator Manyok (Tennessee State, USA) and Mr. Lam Tunguar (United Kindom) who in three years ago went to South Sudan to attend its independent on July 9th, 2011. Before that, the students where shown the routes on the maps by which Lost Boys of South Sudan traveled for 14 years before some of us came to the United States in 2001 as refugees.
Before I began my speech, I told the students that Lost Boys have a saying that, “Education is my Mother and Father”, that means we understood the importance and power of education in bringing about change in the world, and that our only protection and hope is in education.
In my presentation, one of the students asked me where I got the courage and motivation to move on with my live despite all the hardships and sufferings I went through. I was touched by her question. I therefore realized that, this child wanted to make a choice in her life. The one that she will put her mind into. Therefore, I came closer to her and thanked her for the well thought question, and then gave her parental advice based on my experiences.
In my answer to her question, I told her that, what motivated me to move on and choose the life I am living today was my personal life experiences as a Lost Boy. I told myself in the past that there could be no any other way to prevent this harsh way of life than to go to school and continue to fight for liberty and freedom. I informed these students that the future of South Sudan was in the hands of the so called Lost Boys and girls that were wandering all over the world. And indeed, these are the upcoming leaders of South Sudan.
I realized that one’s life experience is cornerstone of one’s positive change in his or her life. If you share these experiences with other people that have not gone through such way of life, you will be making big changes in such people’s lives. To share my life experiences with these children was the great thing ever for me to do. I said to myself that enough is enough for such inhumane life journeys in our generations. I do not want to see my children and their generations go through such a situation ever again, and for that reason I keep on telling them how important education is, in making the world a better place for all mankind.
Some of these children refuse to go to school at their own accord, making it difficult for their parents to control them. I am happy that our presentation was able to change the lives of these kids as per their testimonies after the presentation. I informed them that they are more privileged than those other children outside there who do not even have a book to read, no class by which to learn, no food to eat, and so on. I informed them that children where I come from still study under the trees, and use cartons as their exercise books. I persuaded them that they should grab the chance they have at hands and commit themselves to studying hard to bring about change in the world.
The overall reason why we spoke to the students of Tolleson Union High School in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, was to educate them on the life experiences of the Lost Boys of South Sudan who wandered all over the world looking for a safe refuge. The overall point was to change the minds of these children to take the right pass to education and compare their life situation to what the Lost Boys of South Sudan have gone through for 14 years (1987 – 2001).