By Patricia Shafer
I’ve known Bol for about two years now, but this past Sunday was the first chance I’ve had to hear him speak about in a public setting about his experience as a southern Sudanese refugee. Education Program Manager Elizabeth Peacock and I made a detour on our drive from Charlotte, NC, to Washington, DC and Baltimore, to hear him speak. We sat in the front row with his mother Adout. I was reminded that even though he has been in the U.S. for 12 years now, and the story of young men affected by the past civil war in Sudan has been told many times, every story is unique and every telling is fresh depending on who is listening. In one PowerPoint slide, Bol shared the only photo his family has of time spent in a refugee camp in Egypt. He described a nearby church that in many ways and on many days felt like the only safe harbor in life’s storm. He acknowledged his mother for raising her children and guiding them well in the United States even though she arrived not knowing how to speak English or read and write her name – reality for most women who come into adulthood during war and the aftermath of fleeing it. He beamed with obvious pride at the slide that shows him being commissioned for his entry as an officer in the US Army, a role he officially takes up this January 2014. I’ve been told that southern Sudanese culture places a high value on someone’s story, and it’s important that when someone starts to tell their’s you give them the room to start and finish. I look forward to hearing more about Bol’s.