Ishmael Beah on Campus

Human rights activist and author engages the community.
After years of teaching Ishmael Beah’s book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, in his history elective on civil wars, History Department Chair Jason Carney was excited to have Thacher host the human rights activist, best-selling author, and UNICEF ambassador on campus recently.

“I remember buying his book when it was published in 2007 and hoping it would work well for the new course I was trying that fall—it turned out to be one of the best teaching decisions that I’ve made,” said Mr. Carney. “I taught Beah’s book for five years in my civil wars history elective and always hoped to have him speak at Thacher. Huge thanks to Katherine Halsey for presenting us with this great opportunity! She made it happen.”

Beah, born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, is the New York Times bestselling author of the aforementioned memoir and the novel Radiance of Tomorrow. His memoir has been published in over 40 languages and was nominated for awards and included on “best books” lists when it was published. He’s currently a UNICEF ambassador and advocate for children affected by war, a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Advisory Committee, and vice-chair of Narrative 4, an organization that cultivates empathy and understanding through story exchanges.

On Thursday evening after Formal Dinner, Beah delivered a thought-provoking, inspiring, and informative lecture to the community in the Milligan Center. A large crowd attended the event, including the freshmen and sophomore classes, which were required to attend in lieu of history homework that evening.

On Friday, Beah visited a number of different classes in both the history and English departments, offering students the opportunity to engage with and learn from him in smaller, more dynamic groups. Students in the Contemporary Ethical Issues history elective (seniors), a section of English I (freshmen), a section of English III (juniors), and multiple sections of Honors English IV (seniors) were able to tap into Beah’s insight and knowledge in a classroom setting during his visit. 

Learn more about Thacher’s visiting scholars program.

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