Student and Teacher Testimonials

Students and teachers continue to be inspired by Bol Aweng’s story of his Journey of Hope. He tells of being a Lost Boy of Sudan and the challenges that he faced throughout his life. He has transformed his tragic past into an inspiring and hope-filled story.  The following are statements from teachers and quotes taken from letters written to Bol Awemg after his numerous visits to schools. 

Teacher’s comments:

Beth Jax, Bexley Middle School:

“Bol Aweng has overcome so many obstacles and his story is one of strength and survival.  He has inspired hundreds of my 7th grade students at Bexley Middle School by sharing his life story for the past five years. A story he calls his “Journey of Hope.”

Bol uses his degree in graphic arts to teach my students about his life. He has not only raised awareness about the civil war in South Sudan, a developing nation in crisis, but has taken action to support his people. Bol has inspired my students over the course of 5 years to raise over $36,000 to fund the building of a health clinic and maternity center and provide aid to the people of his village.  Each year, I have several students who write news articles about Bol and his village and they have been published in “This Week in Bexley.” Annually, many students are so inspired by Bol that they raise money on their own, apart from our school fundraisers. I have had two students teach their synagogues and friends and family for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah projects about Bol and the crisis in South Sudan. They raised a combined $2,100 to support Bol’s village and the Buckeye clinic.

Last year, after Bol presented his story to my 7th graders, I received an email from a student sharing that she was donating all of her birthday money to Bol’s cause. She wrote, “The people of [South Sudan] sadly do not have access to safe, drinkable water or food, or even a roof over their heads. I don’t need any of this money. Their survival could depend on this $60 in my hand. This is the most sure I’ve been in my life. I’m donating all of it to [Bol and his people.]”  Additionally, Bol presented his story to our first grade classes at Cassingham elementary to culminate their unit on refugees.  One of his 1st grade audience members took it upon herself to complete extra chores for a month. She made $130 and wrote a letter expressing her desire to help Bol and our 7th grade South Sudan project and donated it all. I cannot think of anyone who inspires people of all ages more than Bol. ”

Elizabeth Blank, Hastings Middle School, Upper Arlington, Ohio

“Students at Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington not only learn about the Lost Boys of Sudan through their social studies curriculum, but begin to connect to the world outside our classroom giving them a global awareness and deeper more personal connection and understanding of the issues and problems occurring in countries like South Sudan.  Bol’s story not only helped the kids understand global issues, but inspired them to raise awareness and make a difference that could directly help and impact the people in Piol, South Sudan.”

Jen Joseph, Park Street Intermediate School, South-Western Schools, Grove City, Ohio

Yesterday I had the honor of hearing an inspiring, kind, hard-working and talented man speak. His story was one of endurance, perseverance, strength, courage, sacrifice, survival and hope. It was a story of great suffering and great appreciation. His soft voice and story mesmerized our students. After his talk, he graciously posed, again and again, arms spread wide to make sure each one in the picture was a part of his kind embrace. No one questioned his presence or felt threatened by him. Our doors and hearts opened wide, no walls, for this REFUGEE and his story, of being a Lost Boy of Sudan. In order to get to the refugee camp, he had walked the distance equivalent to ” from Downtown Columbus to Denver, Colorado”. I’m glad he came when he did. I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t be welcomed here and find it truly hard to grasp that we now live in a country where such a person would be turned away. I didn’t have the heart to ask him how these new decisions will affect his work in Sudan with his non-profit: http://buckeyeclinic.org/ I can only continue to hope and pray.

Students letters to Bol Aweng:

Hastings Middle School, Upper Arlington, Ohio:

Each and every one of your stories was so unbelievably inspiring.  All of your stories helped me look at life another way, to never give up and to always try harder than before.  – Miriam

I was truly inspired by your amazing story because you have done something that I know I could not have done at such a young age. – Rafe

Out of everything we learned about other countries and past lifestyles, your story has impacted me the most.  Everyday I woke up and didn’t even think about how lucky I was to have the stuff I had.  That has all changed now because of your story and what you had to persevere through.  I don’t take anything for granted anymore and I donate a lot more, because how I realize what people go through.  I now have a different perspective on life and how I live.  – Your friend

I couldn’t imagine walking that far when I’m only six years old.  But what I do know is that it was hard for you and every lost boy.  I just took everything for granted.  Having a home, food on the table, fresh water, and not being chased by wild animals (Lucky, I don’t think I will be chased by lions in Ohio).  – Julie

One of the most important things you taught me was to never give up, even in tough times.  Also, you taught me to shoot for my dreams, and that is so important.  Thank you! – Mira

Your words, your story, and everything have inspired me to always think about others around the world, not just me. – Katie

Your story was truly inspiring.  It showed me just how much courage a person can have. – Karl

Even though I’ve read, watched, and heard all about the lost boys, I never learned about the feelings, or the depth of it. I only saw it in two dimensions. But now, thanks to you, I can think of the lost boys in three dimensions. It fills the empty space. Before, all I knew were facts. You have really affected the way my classmates and I think about the lost boys. You’ve inspired us to do something. Before, I thought that because the journey from Sudan to Ethiopia to Kenya to the USA was so hard to bear, it didn’t happen. I didn’t truly believe that it was real. But now I realize that this is a reality, and it affects my classmates and me more than it ever did before we heard your story. So, thank you for coming and teaching us that this is a reality, and showing us your feelings and thoughts. You’ve changed our lives and our minds. We really appreciate you coming. – Your Friend

 

Northmont Middle School, Clayton, Ohio

I have heard many interesting stories about Africa, but I have never heard of such an astonishing and inspiring story like yours. Your story tells us to never quit trying. I will never know what it was like for you to still show faith even though life was traumatizing. I am deeply proud of how you have built the clinic in South Sudan. You are a hero, Bol. You made the clinic for children and women in need. I hope in the future, I will be able to travel to South Sudan and help with the clinic. Keep on telling your story! –Madison

Thank you so much for coming to our school and sharing your fascinating story with us. It made me feel like you were brave and victorious. If that was me fleeing from South Sudan from rebels, I don’t know how I would survive. Your journey gave me courage, confidence, and bravery. –James

I am sorry for what you went through. Your presentation really changes my thoughts about doing something challenging. Anything that I think is challenging from now on, I will think of your story and your journey to get through it.  –Evan

Your story told me that not everybody gets everything in life, and it has also told me not to give up and keep chasing after my dreams. It tells me people can achieve their goals because of what you did.  –Parker

 

Bexley Middle School, Bexley, Ohio:

Thank your for sharing your story with us.  Having to leave my friends, family, and home because of a war is something that is unimaginable to me now and I never could think of having to leave at age six.  You have been so strong through your journey and you have given hope to many people and inspired me and others to make a difference.  Thank you! – Eli

Thank you for sharing your story.  It inspired me to shovel sidewalks and driveways for money when it snows and I will donate the money I earn. – Michael

I hope you don’t mind, but I shared your story with my family.  I think that was the first time my sister has ever been speechless.  Your story was just so inspiring. – Katie

I can’t imagine how much pain and anger and sorrow you have been through.  You are good at persevering and you are an idol. –Austin

I noticed that when you were telling my class about your journey, you were always positive and it seemed that you found the good in everything instead of dwelling on how hard it must have been. – Morgan

Your story is so amazing and it’s a great coincidence I guess that you survived and then went on to make something beautiful out of your tragic story.  Instead of being sad, you decided to take something so sad and horrible and turn into something so beautiful and inspiring.  And now you educate people too, so you can help you tribe, which is so kind and selfless.  – Maud

When you had to walk miles to get water, I walked 20 feet to get to my kitchen sink.  This made me understand that I should not take water for granted.  I now understand that not everyone has the ability to drink water even when they are not thirsty. – Tal

Your “Journey of Hope” was so inspiring to me because even though this had to be a rough time, you kept believing that you would see your family again and had faith that everything would turn out fine.  Thank you for impacting my life and making me see things a little differently. – Sydney

 

Lincoln Park Elementary. Columbus City Schools, Columbus, Ohio

Your presentation has helped me understand what has happened in Sudan.  Unlike books, you have told me lots of information that helps me understand your story. – Jamin

It was fascinating how you went through a lot and kept going, no matter what, which inspires me to keep going and never give up. – Habiba

I never knew how easy my life was until I heard your story. When I get old enough, I will make a difference. – Daiviork

Thank you for showing me that I can make a difference. – Unsigned

You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have. –Unsigned