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OMS 7th Graders Hear Message Of Hope, Survival

Seventh graders listen to a message of hope and survival from guest presenter Gabriel Bol Deng, who detailed his account of escaping South Sudan in the 1980s.
Seventh graders listen to a message of hope and survival from guest presenter Gabriel Bol Deng, who detailed his account of escaping South Sudan in the 1980s.

OSWEGO – The combination of hope and a positive attitude will propel Oswego Middle School seventh graders toward success.

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Seventh graders listen to a message of hope and survival from guest presenter Gabriel Bol Deng, who detailed his account of escaping South Sudan in the 1980s.

That was the message from guest presenter Gabriel Bol Deng, who detailed his account of both living through and escaping war in his home country of South Sudan in the late 1980s.

During his four-month journey from South Sudan to a refugee camp in Ethopia, he told the captivated students he experienced fear, hunger and uncertainty. All of that however, were nothing in comparison to his family’s values.

“They said if I had hope I could move a mountain,” Bol Deng said.

Hope saved his life along the journey, he said, and eventually led him to becoming one of the 2,000-approved “Lost Boys of Sudan” to come to American to start a new life.

That began in February 2001 with new challenges of weather, culture, food, completing his high school education, college and then using his experience to better lives of those back in South Sudan.

OMS English teacher Alison Anderson said the seventh graders prepared for the guest upon reading “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, which details the true story of Bol Deng’s fellow Dinka tribe member Salva Dut.

The students also researched South Sudan’s civil war, children soldiers, current refugee stories and shortages of resources.

With knowledge learned, students asked Bol Deng about the long-term effects of family separation, the war’s end in 2005, his tribe and friendships formed on his journey.

Science teacher Catherine Celeste asked how OMS could help Bol Deng further his dream, to which he suggested financial support to his Hope for Ariang foundation, which provides educational opportunities to children in his hometown.

He also offered OMS and Ariang Primary be partner schools.