Thursday, March 29, 2012

From South Sudan to Yale

Paul Lorem epitomizes a blunt truth about the world: talent is universal, but opportunity is not.
Lorem, 21, is an orphan from a South Sudanese village with no electricity. His parents never went to school, and he grew up without adult supervision in a refugee camp. Now he’s a freshman at Yale University
 As Lorem was growing up, the region was engulfed in civil war, and, at age 5, he nearly died of tuberculosis. In hope of saving his life, his parents dropped him off at the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya. They returned to their village and later died, and Lorem was raised in the camp by other refugee boys who were only a bit older. 
His class sometimes consisted of 300 pupils meeting under a tree, and Lorem didn’t have his own notebooks or pencils or schoolbooks, but he practiced letters by writing in the dust. His friends died of war, disease and banditry, but he devoured the contents of a tiny refugee camp library set up by a Lutheran aid group.
Teachers took increasing pride in their brilliant student and arranged for Lorem to leave the refugee camp and transfer to a Kenyan school for seventh and eighth grades. That way he could compete in nationwide exams and perhaps get into high school.
Just one problem: those exams were partly in Swahili, a language that Lorem did not speak. But he poured himself into his schoolwork, and classmates helped him. Lorem ended up earning the second highest mark in that entire region of Kenya. 

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