After watching a short news segment on Gabriel Akok, Ryan Ruggiero’09 knew she wanted to contact the Arcadia University senior.
Last fall, Ruggiero, a journalism major and peace studies minor, had studied the conflict in Darfur for her national and ethnic conflict course taught by Chaim Kaufmann, associate professor of international relations. In her research, Ruggiero learned about the “lost boys,” children, mostly male, who were orphaned or displaced during the nearly 20-year civil war in southern Sudan.
The news report showed one of the lost boys, Akok, becoming a U.S. citizen. As a 10-year-old, Akok was separated from his parents and his brother was killed, according to a recent news story on Philadelphia's Action News
. The boy and his surviving brother escaped to a refugee camp and attended school in Kenya. In 2001, the brothers came to America and lived only 14 miles from Lehigh University in Quakertown.
Ruggiero emailed Akok, inviting him to Lehigh to discuss the Emmy-nominated documentary Lost Boys of Sudan
. The feature-length film tells of two young Sudanese orphans who endured lion attacks and militia gunfire before finding refuge in Kenya.
“I thought it would be great to have one of the ‘lost boys’ there to talk about the film and answer questions,” says Ruggiero, who is the global outreach chair for her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi (AOPi).
“The girls in my sorority have been very supportive,” she says.
The film and discussion, which is sponsored by AOPi and the Global Union, will be shown April 9 at 7 p.m. in Maginnes Hall, Room 111.