Over the course of the last seven weeks, our class has focused heavily on the Sudanese genocide, The Lost Boys of Sudan and their journey to resettle in America. I was so impacted by the refugee families we met earlier in the week, but it truly was The Lost Boys that touched me.
After watching three films about South Sudan and the conditions there, I feel even more knowledgable about the state there. And nothing will ever replace the experience of meeting and interacting with them. Jany, a Lost Boy that was resettled in the US at the age of 16, was without a doubt the most positive person I have ever encountered. After such a traumatic experience, one would think he had a bad attitude, but it was the opposite. Getting to spend time with him was a highlight for me. Seeing his work with The Lost Boys Center is so inspirational and motivating. I really appreciated being able to ask any question and receive an honest answer, he wasn’t shy in sharing anything. Since he has been resettled here for so long, his story was much more defined as opposed to the refugee families that just got to America.
Also, Jany thinks of America as his second home. He made me understand how lucky we all are to just be America citizens, for so many that isn’t such an easy accomplishment. He recently had a daughter, and he is very adamant about teaching her his native language and making her educated about South Sudan. Many of the Lost Boys we interacted with talked about how their children are a fragile generation that could easily lose the culture of South Sudan. I think it is really amazing how so many of them want to keep that alive.
As the week culminated and we were forced to say goodbye, we were all left feeling like ‘What’s next?” After spending a week learning and spending time with refugees, I think we all want to book the next flight to South Sudan and change the world. However, it’s not that easy. We talked a lot about how the problem seems too big, too complicated and too far reaching to really make an impact. Kuol, another Lost Boy who works at the center, talked about ‘just working with a slice of the pie’. It’s easy for us to feel bewildered and overwhelmed, but it’s the small things that can really start to make a different. Over this past week we have had the opportunity to tell many people about what we were doing; that alone is a step in the right direction.
I’m heading back to JMU with a new outlook on the minority of America. Everyone has a specific journey that can’t be generalized and assumed, for me, this is what I am most proud of. I haven’t yet decided what I want my piece of the pie to be yet, but I’m sure I will find something. I’m scared that the feeling I’m left with will wear away. Currently, I’m so inspired and truly touched by all the refugees and The Lost Boys and can’t imagine that they will not become a permanent part of my life. I can’t wait to see what kind of an impact we can make in the Harrisonburg community.