Salva Dut, the subject of the well-known book about Africa based on his life, A Long Walk to Water, and the founder of the non-profit Water for South Sudan, visited with seventh grade students on Monday via Zoom. Every year, they read the book as part of their Global Studies class.
“My students have read this book for nearly a decade when we explore the region of Africa, because it highlights many of the themes in the class,” says Chuck Neddermeyer, seventh grade Global Studies teacher, in addition to his role as assistant director of DEI. “It includes the experience of young people in different regions, the struggles that displaced people have, equitable distribution of resources, access to those resources, and overcoming obstacles.”
Neddermeyer was put in touch with Dut when his student Cole P. was working on an extra credit assignment and came across his contact information. Dut spoke to the class about the book and how closely it depicts instances from his real life. Dut was separated from his family at age 11 in Sudan and had to walk for miles searching for them, food, and water. He later emigrated to the U.S. and settled with a family in Rochester, after which he reconnected with his father.
When asked by a student what he has learned throughout his life and in his experiences with many different cultures, Dut said, “Human beings are the same. It doesn’t matter what country we are from, what gender, what color—we are no different. We need to make it fun and enjoy life. We are all just human beings in the world.”
Student Yasmine P. created an online platform called Her House, which encourages young women to share their voices on different issues in the world today. It is a space where young women can come together to read or write articles, listen to interviews by other female voices, or ask questions in the forum section.