Sudanese Refugee to Lead U.S. Team at Opening Ceremony

By Mary Ann Zehr — August 07, 2008 1 min read
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I find it moving that the U.S. Olympic team has chosen Lopez Lomong, a Sudanese refugee and 1,500-meter track runner, to lead the team in the procession during the Olympics’ opening ceremony in Beijing on Friday. (Hat tip to ImmigrationProf Blog.) He’s one of the thousands of “Lost Boys” from Sudan—who had been separated from their parents or orphaned in war—and were resettled in the United States starting in 2001. (At the time, I wrote about several Sudanese resettled in Philadelphia). It’s amazing that he’s become a national star in the United States after having suffered so much as a child. His biography says he was abducted to be a child soldier at age 6, escaped, and spent a decade in a refugee camp in Kenya.

I imagine some U.S. educators along the way had something to do with Mr. Lomong’s success in the United States. (Update: I just came across this USA Today article from a year ago in which he thanks his high school cross-country and track coach Jim Paccia for his support.) He attended Tully High School in Tully, N.Y., where he excelled in cross-country and track, and then competed at Northern Arizona University, according to his biography, written by Joey Cheek, former Olympic speed skater and president of Team Darfur, who was just denied a visa by the Chinese to attend the games. (More on Lopez Lomong and the Olympics here and here.)

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.