Thursday, May 3, 2012

Carry On

“Maybe people never actually move on. Maybe moving on is just carrying on. Where do you move on to anyway? You still are you, your memory the same memory. And there is no eraser that can erase what experience, the most permanent marker of all markers, has inscribed in the consciousness. I guess we have no choice but to carry on! And carry on we must!”

These words are powerful. They were written by Nyuol Tong, a current Duke University student and former South Sudanese refugee. His words are a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. His story can be found at

With current media reports of bombing and conflict along the border of North and South Sudan, Nyuol’s urging to “carry on” is evidence of South Sudan’s determination to move forward despite turmoil.

Americans have been asking me, “Are you safe in South Sudan? Are you scared to be there? Are students at risk?”

Here is what I have been saying in response.

Remember 9/11? People in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC were directly impacted by the terrorizing events. They could see wreckage, smell smoke, hear screams, and feel debris on their skin. It was brutal.

What was it like for the rest of the nation? We were shocked. We watched the images of the day unfold on our TVs or computers. Around the United States, and even the globe, we were spectators watching from a distance. We were all impacted, but not of equal magnitude when compared to what was being experienced at Ground Zero.

I would venture to guess that the majority of us in locations outside of NYC, PA, and DC woke up on the mornings of September 12 or 13, got dressed, went to work or school, picked up milk from the store, checked the mailbox, or paid mundane bills. Our awareness of our surroundings was heightened, we were grieving for our nation’s losses, but we continued with our daily rituals and routines. We carried on.

This is similar to what is happening in South Sudan today. The people living along the border with the North are experiencing devastation. They can see, hear, smell, and feel the fighting occurring between northern and southern forces. It is a bad situation. It deserves attention from the international community to promote peaceful negotiations for border demarcation and an agreeable distribution of resources.

For those like Africa ELI staff and students working, living and going to school further south of the border, we get up in the morning, get dressed, and go to school or work. We are aware of the situation. We mourn the loss of life occurring. No one has forgotten the past decades filled with war in North/South Sudan. The memories linger. But the future burns brighter. The cheers for Independence still can be heard. The raising of the new South Sudan flag on July 9, 2011 is inscribed in our collective consciousness.

The situation along the border is not deterring Africa ELI or others from carrying on with education and other public services in the interior of the country. Teaching and learning continue. We believe it is only through education and diplomacy that peace will be fostered and sustained. In light of our circumstances, “we have no choice but to carry on! And carry on we must!”

You can help Africa ELI carry on our important work each day. Will you take a moment and make a donation? Any amount helps us in our work to help South Sudan realize a bright future.

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