Banak Thiwat received his American citizenship this year on April 27.
Tags: Sudan, Banak Thiwat
For many seniors, graduation is filled with memories of elementary school, cafeteria lunches, hide-and-seek on the playground, football games, math tests, and first loves. For Banak Thiwat, the journey to graduation took a different road, one that began on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Thiwat, 19, a graduate of North Yarmouth Academy, was raised by his grandmother on a farm in Sudan. When he was 7, his father, fearing for the safety of his family in a country torn by civil war, starvation and diseases, took Thiwat and Thiwat's younger stepsister across the border to Ethiopia. To reach the refugee camp there, they had to walk for weeks, mostly at night to avoid being detected.
"It was a life-or-death situation," Thiwat said. "My father wanted us to get out, find a safer place and get an education."
Today, we meet high school graduates like Thiwat who've taken amazing journeys, and have awed people, including those much older than them, with their tenacity, bravery and wisdom... [continues]