I spent this gone Friday and Saturday with a South Sudanese man who has just returned from South Sudan. I was amazed that he spent so much money just to go back and celebrate the independence with family and friends. I admired his patriotism. We talked about the current state of the new nation and what was the general public feeling and assessment of the government thus far. He said people are hopeful and confident that government will deliver, given time and “the benefit of the doubt.” Then he said something that was, well, off topic, but quit relevant to the research this summer.
He said that while in South Sudan he felt more American than he ever felt while in America. Continue reading
I will be in Uganda tomorrow and so my research journey in Kagoma Gate will finally begin. Before I start posting every week about the progress and discoveries of the project, I wanted to write more about the background of the project—specifically about why I find this research to be so valuable.
In my first introductory post, I mentioned that I participated in Kenan’s Ethics, Leadership, and Global Citizenship Focus Program. One of my classes was entitled The Limits of Obligation and taught by Professor Suzanne Shanahan who is now my faculty advisor for this summer research. In brief, the class focused on refugee policy and refugees’ experiences by reading and analyzing different genres of literature from novels to researching specific refugee cases. I can honestly say I knew very little about refugees before participating in this class. After taking the class, and also participating in Kenan’s Winter Forum: Refugees, Rights, Resettlement this past January 2012, I can say that refugee policy and the plight of refugees, has become one of my passions.
It is the stories of the refugees that spark my interest most. The ability for people to survive horrors that I can never imagine, and still find the effort to build a new life in a foreign place is something I find incredible. When I heard about Kenan’s Summer Fellows Program, I immediately thought of Kagoma Gate. Kagoma Gate is unlike any other safe haven or place of refuge I have studied—it was physically created by refugees. Continue reading
Call me Nyuol (no allusion intended). I am from South Sudan (the world’s newest nation). I matriculated at Duke with the intention of studying philosophy and economics, and am still interested in them, but I am currently double majoring in literature and linguistics. I have lived in different places and experienced diverse cultures, all which, in many ways, form the edifice of my consciousness. I consider myself a cosmopolitan person, at least intellectually, if not existentially.
In the summer of 2006, I moved to the United States to study. Like many South Sudanese who received comparable opportunities, coming to America marked a new beginning for me. Before that breakthrough, the prospects of getting secondary education, going to college, or just improving the conditions of the refugee life were rather bleak. And so, that summer, when the FedEx package arrived containing a letter of acceptance and a scholarship award to attend a boarding school in California—well, everything changed. Those documents established my qualification for a passport, which means country, nationality, recognition, rights, privileges I was denied, being a refugee and all.
Anyway, I found myself in America overnight. Continue reading