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STUDENT REFLECTIONS First Year Experience The Lost Boys of Sudan 2014 Truman Lecture Series

Avila University • • 11901 Wornall Road • Kansas City, Missouri 64145 • 816.942.8400

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STUDENT REFLECTIONS First Year Experience The Lost Boys of Sudan 2014 Truman Lecture Series

e Preface From Alephonsion Deng, author, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan The opportunity to share my story with students at the Avila University Truman Lecture Series was one of the greatest honors ever bestowed upon me. The students demonstrated a sincere commitment and desire for learning. They listened attentively as I took them on a narrative journey. They were bright and very focused and I am sure the leadership of Avila University deserves equal credit. The Hunger Challenge project that the students were involved in was indeed an eye opener for everyone, including the community at large. We cannot change things and then change ourselves. We must change ourselves first then we change things in life. The right order, leads to the right leadership and right actions. Talking alone will not accomplish it. Doing moves things. When one is focused on his/her goals and dreams, that focus will allow one to survive should seemingly insurmountable life circumstances present themselves. Dreams and visions do keep us alive. No matter what happens in our lives we must never allow situations to let us lose our focus on our dreams and goals. I am grateful to Avila University for giving me such an honor and making me feel that my life counts. Onward for the adventure of life!!

Avila Community Values e Excellence in teaching and learning e The Catholic identity of the University e The sponsorship and contribution of the Sisters of St. Joseph e The worth, dignity, and potential of each human being e Diversity and its expression e Commitment to the continual growth of the whole person e Interaction with and service to others Avila University • • 11901 Wornall Road • Kansas City, Missouri 64145 • 816.942.8400 Avila University Press, 2014. All rights reserved.


Avila University Mission

Avila University, a Catholic University sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, is a values-based community of learning providing liberal arts, professional, undergraduate and graduate education to prepare students for responsible lifelong contributions to the global community.


ission is at the heart of Avila’s First Year Experience! As stated in our mission, the Avila University community helps prepare students for lifelong contributions to the global community. We begin this preparation immediately and students have multiple experiences throughout the first year to continue to gain global insights and think about how they might contribute to our global community. This publication serves as the culmination of a series of experiences shared among our first year students (Appendix A). These experiences span the summer and first semester of an Avila first year student. Each year, Avila selects a common reading for our first year students. Students have the summer to read the selected book and respond with an essay prior to the start of fall class. Additionally, the University dedicates the Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture to the selected book. To compliment these experiences, all first year students enroll in a fall semester class, First Year Seminar, which provides an opportunity to further expand on the global topics within the book. The book selected for the 2014-2015 academic year was They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan (A. Deng, B. Deng, Ajak, and Bernstein, 2005). Benjamin, Alephonsion and Benson, all of the Dinka tribe of Sudan, began their lives in a close-knit village complete with the comforts and safety of family and friends. In the middle of the night government-armed Murahiliin attacked their village causing five-year-old Benson and seven-year-old Benjamin to flee. Two years later, Alepho was forced to do the same. Over the next five years, thousands of boys became child war refugees. They became known as the Lost Boys. They traveled over one thousand miles and experienced severe hunger, thirst and disease. Those who survived eventually came to refugee camps only to find the extreme forms of the same pain they experienced before. Many of the Lost Boys came to the United States to find hope. Most still reside in the United States and even in our own Kansas City community. Avila University was honored and humbled to hear from one of the Lost Boys and authors of the book, Alephonsion (Alepho) Deng. In October 2014, Alepho traveled from his home in California to present the 2014 Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture (Appendix B). With the same courage as was displayed in his book, Deng shared his story to a crowd of nearly 500. He reminded us of the importance of family, that we all have “lions” in our lives and to be kind to each other and show gratitude for all that we have. On this same day, the University hosted a panel consisting of Fr. John Deng (Lost Boy), Dr. Karen Garber-Miller (Lost Boy Mentor) and Dr. Cort Miller (Lost Boy Mentor). The panelists reminded us of the strength and compassion of the human spirit. Our first year students also participated in a series of events and activities to provide them with opportunities to gain further insight into the issue of hunger which was a significant struggle for the Lost Boys. The Univer-

sity partnered with the non-profit organization Stop Hunger Now. Our first year students, first year seminar instructors and mentors as well as individuals from The Bank of Blue Valley and Avila alumni packaged over 26,000 meals that combined rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals. These meals were sent to Swaziland within the continent of Africa (Appendix C). For one week our first year students logged all food they consumed and wasted. It was eye opening for many students to document vast food availability while just packaging food for individuals whose only meal for the day would be a portion of the rice bag. The week after students tracked their food, they participated in the Hunger Challenge Day. The goal of the Hunger Challenge was to only eat the Stop Hunger Now rice meal, which was received Monday afternoon, from midnight on Sunday to midnight on Monday. This Challenge was to show solidarity with individuals in other countries whose only meal for the day is the rice meal and to show support and recognition for the trials of the Lost Boys. Bracelets made from the rice bags were distributed for all to wear as an outward sign of support for the Hunger Challenge. On this same day, students heard from Baylee DeLaurier, Program Manager for Stop Hunger Now, who spoke to issues related to global and local hunger. On the evening of the Hunger Challenge many students also participated in a Hunger Solidarity Vigil sponsored by Campus Ministry. This was an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to come together during the dinner hour when we committed not to eat until midnight. For the culminating project of First Year Seminar, students submitted a reflection essay sharing insights related to all they had experienced. They reflected on how this experience impacted their thinking regarding war, hunger, survival, family, determination, perseverance and their world views. They also provided insights on how this experience impacted their view on food consumption and food availability both in the United States and in other countries such as the Sudan. They reflected on how this experience impacted their personal calling or vocation and how the experience connected to Avila’s mission and values. This publication is a compilation of several of these reflections submitted for the culminating project by our first year students. We are proud of our mission and values and humbled to have the opportunity to allow our first year students to live them out. I hope you enjoy reading their reflections! Paige Illum, Ph.D. Coordinator of First Year Experience Coordinator of Retention Adjunct Faculty Avila University Works Cited Ajak, B., Deng, B., Deng, A. & Bernstein, J. (2005). They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York, NY: Public Affairs a member of the Perseus Books Groups.




his publication is in honor of the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Several years ago Avila University enrolled several Lost Boys from the Sudan who had come to the United States to seek a better life away from the refugee camps they had been living in for years. These individuals became loved members of our Avila community. We are thankful to each of them for sharing their lives with us and we feel honored to share their story through our 2014-2015 Avila University First Year Experience. A special acknowledgment and many thanks to Alephonsion (Alepho) Deng, one of the authors of They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky and the 2014 Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecturer. Alepho was humble, courageous and inspiring. The stories he shared about his life experiences left the room in complete silence with disbelief and also full of laughter at his humor. He had such a positive impact on all whom he encountered while visiting and we were blessed to host him at Avila University. Many thanks to Bob Regnier and The Bank of Blue Valley, who made our visit with Alepho Deng possible. Thank you for your commitment to our community and education. Thank you to our outstanding Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Panel comprised of Fr. John Deng (Lost Boy), Dr. Karen Garber-Miller (Lost Boy Mentor) and Dr. Cort Miller (Lost Boy Mentor). Fr. John, you are a blessing and an inspiration to others. Dr. Garber-Miller and Dr. Miller, your commitment to the Lost Boys and the compassion you show to others is admired. Thank you to Baylee DeLaurier, Program Manager for Stop Hunger Now. Baylee and the Stop Hunger Now organization was uplifting to work with and we admire your organization for its commitment to ending world hunger. Baylee, you provided examples to our students which made the issue of hunger more understandable and relatable. Thank you for connecting with them in such a memorable manner. Thank you to the Avila University Common Reading Program Committee led by Dr. Paige Illum. Members were Jaimie Kirby, Kara Koehler, Dr. Sue Ellen McCalley and Dr. Amy Milakovic. The committee read this book early in the book selection process but


with each additional book read, it became clearer this was a story that needed to be shared. The Truman Lecture Series Committee brought the book to life on the Avila campus! Through the extreme hard work of Robert Foulk, Angela Heer, Bailey Carr, Dr. Paige Illum, Ann O’Meara and the insightful leadership of Dr. Sue Ellen McCalley, our students experienced lifelong memories. Thank you! Many thanks to Angela Heer, Vice President of Advancement & External Relations, and Ann O’Meara, Assistant Vice President of Marketing & Communications, for their countless hours of dedicated work to make this entire experience a success. And our thanks to Maureen Reardon and Michael Kight, designers of this reflection book, for their wonderful creative and on-target project management skills. Many thanks to the members of the Office of Marketing and Communication, the Advancement Office and the Theatre Department who helped implement a flawless series of events and festivities surrounding the Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture. Thank you for your excellent attention to detail and expertise in your respective areas. Through the tireless efforts of our First Year Seminar Instructors, our students were able to gain important life lessons though the First Year Seminar curriculum. A great deal was asked of all of these individuals who were always cooperative and dedicated. You all DID make a difference. Thank you to Dave Armstrong, Jason Baldwin, Joe Barnhill, Crystal Bruntz, Bailey Carr, Rebecca Colwell, Carol Frevert, Darby Gough, Pharamond Guice, Dr. Paige Illum, Jaimie Kirby, Dr. Gerald Larson, Kristi Littleton, Anna McDonald, Alicia Murillo, Julie Schneider, Linda Strelluf, Michael Taylor, Janine Urness, and Eric Winter. Lastly, thank you to all of the Avila University first year students. You read a story about three young boys turning into young adults in unthinkable circumstances. Thank you for taking them into your hearts and not allowing their story to be forgotten.



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4 Preface 5 Introduction 6 Acknowledgments 9 Student Reflections 15 Alepho and Benson’s Travel Route 16 Student Reflections 27 Excerpts from Student Reflections 37 Appendix A: Avila First Year Students 38 Appendix B: Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Program 39 Appendix C: Avila University and Stop Hunger Now 40 Common Reading Program


Drawing by Randel Emakoua Hometown: Bowie, Md. Major: Pre-Health Professions

Reflections e Lance Lewis


very year I have spent on this planet I never stopped to think about how harsh the reality of this world actually is. I never stopped to consider all the pain, the suffering, and the struggle in the lives of those less fortunate than I, especially when they are not of immediate importance. It is easy to look over those who may need the most help when one is enveloped in his own day to day life. You may see little glimpses of war through media, but never will you truly understand the devastating effects that it really has on people unless it happens to you. It was an absolute honor to hear the not so sugar-coated version straight from the mouth of an actual survivor. When Alepho Deng spoke about his personal experience with the war in Sudan it not only pulled on the strings in my heart but played a vibrant melody. I could feel the pain in his voice as he spoke, and with the addition of reading the book, I could almost put myself in his shoes. He talked about the importance of his family, although he lost his mother and father, he had many brothers that looked up to him. He had to be strong to get them through such a time. Although many did not make it, some did, and it was so unreal seeing the boy I read about in a book actually in front of me. He is literally a symbol of what perseverance and determination can do. He did not let all the things he went through affect him in a negative way. He took it and made something positive out of it and that inspires me to never give up. At first I had no idea how narrow minded I was, thinking of only things that affected me personally. I had no idea how easy I had it compared to the Lost Boys. I was totally unaware of anything going on outside of this country. The story itself shook me and opened my eyes, it manifested so much sympathy in my mind for them. It went into such detail that you could not help but feel for these boys. And just the fact that they were mere children going through things that none of us would ever imagine makes it so incredible. Between the packaging of meals, the information shared, and the food chart that we were to fill out, I have noticed some things. First and foremost the amount of food available to me over my lifespan has been absolutely ridiculous. I can not think of a time when my eyes were not bigger than my stomach. I can think of numerous occasions in which I actually threw away a perfectly good burger or a perfectly good meal because I literally could not eat anymore. This experience made me think about all the buffets that encourage us to eat as much as possible, and very rarely do you see someone eat all of what they take. All that food gone to waste and none of us who are used to it “bat an eye�. We as a majority think nothing of it because it is a normal thing. But just hearing about the thousands of deaths caused by hunger in Africa changed my whole mindset. I could now see the errors of my ways. And when Baylee DeLaurier (Stop Hunger Now) told us a child dies every ten seconds due to starvation in Africa, that really brought it home for me. We learned

that it is literally possible to stop world hunger if all the food in the world would be distributed evenly. But the world being the way it is, it could be a very long time before we see that. During the food packaging phase of this experience, with the combined efforts of students, and adults, we were able to package enough food to feed an umpteen amount of people. And the craziest part was that we were able to feed thousands of people, only taking an hour or so from our lives to benefit those less fortunate than we are. Knowing that a child will not starve because of our efforts was a blessing in itself. It made me stop and wonder how easy it was, and what could be accomplished if everyone that could, pitched in. It will no doubt take all of us, but worldwide hunger can be solved. This whole experience can be connected to the mission and values of Avila University. First of all, one of the missions is to educate the community. Most of us were so unaware or never thought much about the situations discussed. Now that we have learned we can apply ourselves in order to better these conditions. Education was a large part of life in some of the camps in Africa. They did all they could in order to educate the young to make better lives for themselves, much like we do here. And that can be connected to the value saying that we must realize the worth, dignity, and potential of each human being. Just because we can not see them, do not know them, or they do not affect us now, there are people in this world like the Lost Boys who have the same ability as we to accomplish feats and change the world. Much like Fr. John Deng who came to America and has touched the hearts of many through religion. Who would have ever thought that as a possibility in his old tribe? We all have a purpose whether we know it or not, and we all need to realize that. So overall this experience has impacted me greatly, mostly in the area of eating. Just because of the images I have seen of some of these starving people, I will stop taking more food than what I can eat so I do not have to throw it away. My parents always told me to never waste food because there are people out there that would be grateful for a hot meal. And this experience just brought it home for me. I have learned to not see everyone as just another person. We are more than what we appear and we need to show that kind of respect to each other. Works Cited Ajak, B., Deng, B., Deng, A. & Bernstein, J. (2005). They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York, NY: Public Affairs a member of the Perseus Books Groups.

Major: Kinesiology Hometown: Raytown, Mo.

e Cristina Nicolosi


s humans we all have a story. Some stories are more exciting and easier to share, and others harder to live with and tell. As a girl in her late teens in the United States of America, one has many life decisions to make, and it can be quite stressful. The Truman Lecture made me ponder my own story, and seeing as to what I have dealt with in my past, I ranked it as an all right story with some hardships. However, the Lecture Series also made me realize how blessed I am to have the story I do and how small my struggles really have been compared to a lot of people on this earth. The Truman Lecture was extremely eye opening, and for me, it impacted my thoughts on determination and perseverance the most. Hearing the Lost Boys, Fr. John Deng and Alephonsion Deng speak was, in my opinion, the best part of the entire series. They were extremely inspiring, and seeing them as happy as they were and so loving after everything they have gone through, was encouraging and moving. I can only imagine how hard it must be to share their story and relive all of the horrible memories, but the fact that they do and spread awareness of the issues in the Sudan is amazing, and I hope they realize how inspiring they truly are. Their ability to live so positively, smile, and radiate love is incredible, and pushes me to be more like that. Their perseverance through their hard journey, and the strength and determination for survival is not only incredible, but an inspiration for all who hear their story. Their speeches impacted my world view in the sense that I now think twice before I feel sorry for myself in times of stress, or when I have a small problem and think about how lucky and grateful I am to live a life full of love and peace.

it also speaks to calling and vocation, and I think it has called everyone who heard the Lectures, and packed the food, to be grateful for what they have, and to help those who are not blessed with as much. I think that this experience will be in my mind for many years to come, and I hope to learn more about the Lost Boys and the Sudan, and ways to help. I know that I will definitely stop wasting as much food, and I will try to stop stressing about problems in my life, seeing as to how minor they are in comparison to life or death situations. I am extremely grateful to have participated in the Truman Lecture. It was such an eye opening experience, and it has led me to want to learn more about hunger in the world, and how I can help. I am blessed to have heard the Lost Boys speak, and have heard their story. Their stories about their journey push me to live a better life, and be grateful for my education and freedom. I hope that I can spread what I have learned from the series with those around me, and learn to stop taking what I have for granted.

I believe that the least favorable part of the experience was the Hunger Challenge and rice meal we ate. I was inspired by the meals we prepared, and I felt a sense of satisfaction by accomplishing the packing of 26,000-plus meals. However, when it came to eating the meal, it was not too pleasant, and I must admit I did forget about the challenge and ate other food beforehand. No matter how gross the meal, and how annoying charting all the food I ate was, it did open my eyes to how much food we waste in the U.S.A., and how easy it is for us to get food. The speech on hunger really tugged at my heartstrings, especially when Baylee DeLaurier, the Kansas City Program Manager from Stop Hunger Now, brought up the scenario of all the children dying. It was so saddening, but it again made me feel great about packing the meals and still makes me think twice about how much food I eat, and waste. The fact that Avila University incorporates the Truman Lecture as part as the First Year Seminar says a lot about how great their values are, and it makes me happy and grateful to be part of a school and community that helps others globally. This experience not only shows the greatness about Avila’s mission, but


Major: Undeclared Hometown: Leawood, Kan.

e Jenessa McCoy


t seemed that no matter what I did, this war was determined to fling us into the wind like moths” (Deng , 2005, p. 149). By far one of the most heartbreakingly powerful quotes from They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, the quote above eloquently expresses the feelings of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The events of the Truman Lecture have been nothing short of eye- opening these past months. It is shamefully too easy to forget, or worse, ignore, the pain and hunger the people of Sudan have felt and continue to feel. Anything in this world that has the power to make you stop and think is something that has impacted you in some way. Events and ideas that impact you cannot be ignored, they are brought to your attention to be acted on and it is ignorance that keeps the world in stasis. In these next few paragraphs I will reflect on what has impacted me, the things that have caused me to stop and re-evaluate some of the ways I see the world. Reading a detailed first person account from three of the Lost Boys over the summer was difficult. The book draws in readers in a remarkable way. I have never before read a book where I want to put it away as badly as I want to turn the page. These young boys suffered so much pain and so much loss, but their resolve was remarkable. I am convinced that the Lost Boys found something within themselves, some power that ignited their passion to survive. It truly baffles me how boys, just young boys, not only survived, but thrived. Their story has impacted my world view. It is difficult for me to read their stories and see the complete abandonment from the rest of the world. How did a war that caused an explosion of anguish amount to nothing but a whisper to other parts of the world? It is hard to see Sudan as a country tear itself apart; it is harder to see no one else attempt to put them back together. It is hopeful that the United States did help some Lost Boys relocate and start better lives and that is a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Before reading this remarkable story, and learning throughout this series, I will admit I had no idea how painful starvation really is. I do not know what it is to starve and I will never pretend that I do. For anyone who has at least two meals a day, to ever say they are starving, is a gross exaggeration. The Lost Boys have starved; the lack of food has caused death. Something that has really stuck with me these past months is when it was said at the food packaging for Stop Hunger Now, that there is enough food in this world that no one should have to starve. It makes me cringe to think that there is no need for any living being to starve and yet they are, every day. Every day there are lives being lost that do not need to be. Excuse me if I seem repetitive, but this is such a breathtaking truth that it should be hammered into everyone’s heads and hearts. There is enough food to feed everyone and people in Sudan and countries just like it are starving. The world is operating in a way that is broken, and we have been given the tools to fix it, yet we do not use them.

The Truman Lecture has impacted my future, because it has impacted the way I see things. When a view or belief is changed, your future actions are influenced. After reading the story of the Lost Boys I never want to be ignorant of another world issue. Merely having heard of a Lost Boy is no longer good enough. I want to know the struggles of the world, because I am a part of this world and it is ignorant to turn away from knowing what plagues the world. Seeing a headline and then moving on is not enough, you cannot know the issue from that. You have to take the time to notice. I am not saying you have to uproot your life and go to the issue; you merely have to become aware. There can no longer be blind eyes to issues that are not in your backyard. The knowledge of starvation will also impact my future and the way I see food in this world. I will feel the bang of waste when I throw away food that I know could be lifesaving elsewhere. The feeling of such discarded waste will make me savor what I have been given. It breaks my heart to know that everyday someone is dying that could have lived. This is something I will carry with me through the future and if opportunity arises where I can help fix this, no matter how small, I will take it. I will pause when I reach for food that I know there is a good chance I am just going to throw away. I will not take for granted the sight of a full kitchen cabinet, or the fact that when I am hungry I need merely walk a few steps to get a snack. These are things I can do now, small steps that overtime, will span a great distance. In conclusion, the war of Sudan was very much like a strong wind, carelessly flinging smaller beings into turmoil. A country thrown into panic and the world saw, but did not always listen. The events of the Truman Lecture should have impacted every single person who attended them. When something makes you stop and think, you have the power to do something about it. It is up to each individual whether he or she will stand up to take notice or will turn away and become another whisper in the wind. Works Cited Ajak, B., Deng, B., Deng, A. & Bernstein, J. (2005). They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York, NY: Public Affairs a member of the Perseus Books Groups..

Major: Theatre Hometown: St. Charles, Mo.

e Jessica Aldrich


unger, war, survival, and family: Four words with different, interlacing denotative and connotative meanings that are as vast as the different cultures across the globe. These words are influenced through individual life experiences and knowledge of the world around us. The Lost Boys of Sudan have very different opinions on these words than I do because they have lived poverty first hand. Their experiences are unmatched by anything I have been through, but their story has taught me about myself, my beliefs, and what each of these words means to me. Hunger, war, survival, and family all fall closer to home than they once did. Without my experience with Alepho’s speech, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, and packing food for families in their home country, their connotation would have remained in the innocent light in which I was raised. Growing up innocent and ignorant to all the horrific things in the world around me, I had no true connection with war. I never knew anyone who had served in a war and did not understand it beyond the fact that it had happened in the past and was going on in other countries. However, to the boys of Southern Sudan, war was their entire life. From a young age they had to run from bombs, be on the lookout for soldiers, and flee their homes in order to stay alive. I never understood the personal side of war, the side the boys showed me through their story. Nowhere on the television or in a history book does it adequately explain what life was like for those affected by war. We get the stories of people dying and bombs going off on the side of the road, but what about the families of those who died? Or the loss they faced as their villages were ravaged? My worldview has shifted from an ignorant state of taking in everything the media has to tell me to an empathetic view for those behind the fighting. Each person has a story to tell; the Lost Boys are more than just a collection of children who experienced the same tragedies, but each boy has his own circumstances. No two go through the same journey. I have taken a more personal view of tragedy and war that weighs heavily on my heart because I know I have the avenues to reach my dreams. These boys, though, may never see their potential because survival is their only focus. In order to survive, the Lost Boys had to face extreme hunger, a kind of hunger that I will never know or even begin to understand. Learning about the starvation they faced made me embarrassed for the overabundance of food that we have available. The moment you walk into a Wal-Mart there is a gross amount of food, much of which goes to waste (Society of Saint Arthur, 2014). I realized that I was not as thankful for what I have as I should be. I typically want something other than what I have, or complain when I do not get my favorite meal. It is my opinion that the obesity rate in America has become outrageous due to gluttonous habits and not understanding the difference between hunger and boredom. I think that it is ridiculous that people in countries, such as the Sudan, and especially in parts of America, do not have enough food to eat. While I sit here with a variety of options, they are lucky to get a bowl of rice. This also exposes the corruption in their government, as only a portion of what is promised to be donated is actually received by those who need it. Often those in the government or in charge of distributing it are sure to take their cut and leave only a fraction for those in need (Walgren, 1994). I may never completely understand true hunger, but I know I can make a difference by turning away from the gluttonous nature of our society and work to provide food for those who need it to survive.

viving, but their brothers as well. Working to make sure everyone was provided for, looking for others they knew, and learning from their experiences, the boys grew in every aspect of life. Because they were so concerned with the fate of their families and the “brothers” they walked with, the boys gave light to what it means to “interact and serve others.” In the book there are countless examples of boys trying to get their brothers to keep walking, sharing their food, and mourning losses together (Deng, 2005, p. 116). They formed a community where no one person was better than another and they all worked together to survive. The Lost Boys fit in well with the values of Avila University, as they had the drive to learn, were well-rounded individuals, and interacted and served each other to survive. Working together in all aspects of life the boys formed their own communities, better described as families. Before, family only meant my parents and brother, but after reading this book I gained a new understanding of family. A family member is anyone who is there to support you and pull you through dark times into safety, regardless of their own circumstances. After discovering this broadened definition of family I rethought my goals and life calling. Academically I am still striving to be an engineer, I believe it strengthened my desire to go into a medical engineering field where the discoveries I make will directly affect others. By having those who need help use a treatment I discovered, I feel as though I would become a part of that family. Through my work I want to give someone else another chance at life and have, metaphorically speaking, helped drag my “brother” along the path and nursed him back to health to complete the journey. As I continue to gain wisdom, I will work to keep an open mind by doing the little things that can help others and be empathetic to their cause. Through every experience in my life I have gained wisdom and understanding for the world around me. My opinions on hunger, war, survival, and family have been greatly affected by the insight Alepho shared with us. He showed me the true meaning of family and survival. Though I may never be in his situation, I know I can rely on my family if I were. I have no right to complain of being hungry when I waste food every day. I will never face war as directly as Alepho and his brothers did. Connotative definitions have vast meanings based on personal experience and while I will never have the same experiences as Alepho, he taught me to see beyond my backyard and consider the world. Works Cited Ajak, B., Deng, B., Deng, A. & Bernstein, J. (2005). They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York, NY: Public Affairs a member of the Perseus Books Groups. Society of Saint Arthur. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. “SoSA I Food Waste in America.” Food Waste in America. Walgren, Judy. Web. 7 June 2014. “The Lost Boys of Southern Sudan.” Africa Report 39.3 (1994): 40. Academic Search Premier.

Survival is a term I am most familiar with in a scientific sense, survival of the fittest. While that applies for the boys traveling across Sudan, survival became a way of life, much more than just who could outlast whom. The only thing that mattered to them was getting out alive with their brothers. Through this, the boys exemplified many of the values of Avila University. They thirsted for knowledge, knowing that was their gateway to the future, the “Excellence in Teaching and Learning” value. Our faculty strive to give us the best education they can. As students we need to take advantage of that and not take it for granted because it is an opportunity that we get that many people do not. The boys also showed the “commitment to continual growth of the whole person” by worrying not only about themselves sur-


Major: Pre-Health Professions Hometown: Topeka, Kan.

e Shakanah Kilen


here are many who are struggling to survive each day, yet we easily turn a blind eye to them. Most of the time, we do this unconsciously. This is something that we need to see change in the world; spreading active awareness about the importance of helping one another is vital for humanity. We cannot continue to grow while there are so many suffering and will never get the help they need. It is a difficult reality to face, but it is happening right now. This is why I am thankful for the experiences I have been able to have here at my first semester at Avila University. As an incoming college freshmen it is easy to get so wrapped up in all of the changes that I am facing and it is difficult to think of anyone other than the personal here and now. At Avila, our first assignment was to read a book and write a paper on it. This book, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, set the tone for the beginning of our journey here at Avila The faculty did not have us read a book over the summer just to forget about in the fall and move on to other things. Instead, it started the foundation of what we were to experience the first semester. I have been exposed to the suffering of others and what we can do to make a difference. This experience has opened my eyes to the deadly extent of war. We hear of war on the news, but most of us have not been swept up in the middle of it. War does not just affect the soldiers and the surrounding lands; it also affects the innocent people who are caught in the crossfire. Another topic addressed this semester was hunger. In America some of us easily waste our food and are able to be picky, yet in many countries thousands are forced to go days without food or water. It is astounding that we can be so selfish when others would be happy to live a day in our lives. It takes a lot of strength to push through and survive; it takes a tremendous amount of hope to have the will to keep on trying each day.

are those dying because they cannot get what I easily have and take for granted. This story and topic reiterates the importance of calling and vocation. I believe it is everyone’s calling and vocation to help others. This can be done in ways that are obvious and ways that are more subtle. Choosing to have a good attitude and founding charities are both ways to make a difference in the world. Avila University’s mission and values are another way that people are making the world a better place. It is important to be a part of a community that stands by moral integrity and pursues it whole-heartedly instead of slacking off to make things easier and avoid conflict. Being able to have a part in experiences like these makes me the person I am today. They give us a chance to answer the call to stand up for what is right. Change starts with a simple yes and takes off from there. It is important to me that I make a change in the world, even if it is through just one person. Opportunities to serve others are ways I can do this. Lending a helping hand should not be done so that you can add it to a list of good things you have done; it should be purely about wanting to help others, not yourself.

The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan reminds me how important awareness is. The world needs to work together to overcome these obstacles so that we may prosper. I need to constantly remind myself to not get caught up in my own personal life and to reach out a helping hand. Having a world view that we can one day all live in harmony with each other may sound farfetched, but we will never know if we never try. It may be difficult to have everyone get along, but by uniting together for a common cause, to help those in need, is a way we can change the world for the better. These experiences have shown me that I need to do my own part in helping out. This can easily be done by watching what I eat and what I do not eat. Wasting food is a bigger issue than we make it out to be. Promoting portion control and not taking more than we need is important because it wastes money and resources. This semester has shown me just how fortunate I am. I have multiple sources of water in my house, while those in Sudan may suffer to have just one. It is painful to know there

Major: Accounting Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

e Jessica Lewis

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it is less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that is good.” ~ Elizabeth Edwards


t has been said for centuries in all places and applications that what will carry a person the furthest in his or her life is the ability to rise and learn from every experience that comes his or her way, particularly those experiences that prove to be incredibly challenging beyond measure. The experience of the Lost Boys of Sudan, particularly those who co-authored the book, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, illustrates this point perfectly and without question. Along with reading the Lost Boys’ harrowing accounts of resiliency and survival, the activities the freshman class here at Avila University has participated in have only furthered this point, demonstrating the power of perseverance and a strong will, and the importance of a feeling that one is chosen for something by someone.

With limitless resources and an emphasis on the call to make an impact in some way, Avila University is the greatest place I can think of to prepare me to make my difference, and to test my resilience. The emphasis on the importance of service and personal growth means that inspiration is easy to find, such as in the case of the Lost Boys, as are ways to use that inspiration to make meaningful contributions to the world around me. Furthermore, Avila has already provided me with numerous challenges to tackle head on and grow from, so that when it is my turn to leave my mark, I will be able to do so, no matter how difficult it may be at times. I will use the skills and tools I have acquired from this and other experiences so that, each time I encounter adversity, I will be able to rise and carry myself on to make good things out of bad.

When I first began reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, I knew I would learn a tremendous amount about what struggle truly is, and how important it is to value every single resource I have. I did not expect to finish the book in complete awe and wonder at how incredibly perseverant, faith-driven, and persistent the authors were. However, when I closed the back cover, I could only sit and marvel at the ability of such young boys not only to have such strong faith and sense of purpose in a situation which would have, and did, cause so many to utterly lose hope, but also at the fact that even in such dire conditions they did not once actually give up (although they did at some points consider it). I was amazed by their ability to continue to plow through their trials even with the knowledge it could all be in vain. When Alepho Deng, one of the authors of the book, and Fr. John Deng came to speak to us here at Avila, I was even more blown away by them. In person, the reality of what happened to them became more real, as did the resiliency of their spirits. They bravely shared how traumatized they were by those experiences in Sudan, but what they showed even more was the joy that lived within them to their very cores in spite of everything. They did not let their experiences crush them; instead, they used them to propel them into better lives and to compel others to do the same, and I was inspired to do the same. I have always been the kind of person to try to learn and grow from every experience, good or bad. Seeing what that meant in the context of the Lost Boys, or even of hungry people around the world in general, gave newer, deeper meaning to it for me. I have grown up believing in my ability to do anything I put my mind to, but these stories forced me to realize all there is for me to put my mind to. If millions of people a day can survive the conditions Alepho and the other Lost Boys did, not only can I make a difference in someone’s life; I can change the world, especially when I am being primed to do so at a place like Avila.


Major: Pre-Health Professions Hometown: Eskridge, Kan.

Alepho and Benson’s Travel Route

Below is the travel route of Alepho and Benson upon fleeing their village in order to find safety and hope. Thousands of other children traveled similar paths.

Works Cited Ajak, B., Deng, B., Deng, A. & Bernstein, J. (2005). They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York, NY: Public Affairs a member of the Perseus Books Groups.


e Sarah Woodward


am forever changed by the Lost Boys’ experiences. As a student at Avila, this opportunity was eye-opening to the tragic events that happened in the Sudan. Before reading, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky this summer, I did not have any background regarding the Sudan or the Lost Boys. After reading this amazing book, I became committed to the Lost Boys and their experiences. The activities, events and assignments that I completed in First Year Seminar expanded my understanding of these stories. The students of Avila truly appreciated the courtesy of Alepho coming and speaking to us directly about his experiences about running from war in the Sudan. War was one of the major themes in this novel, and how it affected the citizens of the country. Listening to Alepho talk about running from the war made it a reality. The Lost Boys actually lived these terrible events and many of them survived. This was because of their hope of getting their education. The Lost Boys had a determination that was unreal, and that was what kept them going. Alepho stated in the Truman Lecture that the boys wanted education and they would practice what they learned by writing in the sand with sticks. Alepho was lucky enough to get the opportunity and come to America. Today, there are still issues in the Sudan and the Lost Boys are still struggling. Programs like Stop Hunger Now assist with these issues by packaging food for countries in hunger.

of good hygiene and clean drinking water. I am also interested in being a mentor for individuals who are new to the country. Hearing the story of Dr. Garber-Miller and Dr. Miller becoming mentors for the Lost Boys intrigued me to possibly do that in the future. Experiencing this amazing opportunity will impact my future for the better. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read this book and partake in these events all surrounding the Sudan and worldwide hunger. Having the opportunity to learn through hands-on activities made the issues in Sudan an actuality. I am still in shock about the unbelievable experiences that these boys have had in their short lives. My favorite part of First Year Seminar was attending the Truman Lecture and listening to Alepho speak about his life in America as well as in the Sudan. Taking a picture with him, getting his autograph and directly talking to him made this an experience I will never forget.

Stop Hunger Now’s mission is to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable people and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources. This organization makes such an impact on the worldwide issue of hunger. After participating in Stop Hunger Now my understanding of hunger in the world was expanded. The statistics that the ambassador told me were startling. She shared with us that there has been enough food to feed everyone on the planet since the 1960’s and that a child dies every 10 seconds from a hunger related illness or complication. Those facts are truly shocking. After participating in Stop Hunger Now, several of my friends and I want to become ambassadors for this astonishing association. We want to further our understanding of worldwide hunger and see what we can do to help. For a while, I have known that I want to do missionary work after I get my degree in Nursing. I am the kind of person who feels great joy from helping people in need. I feel a connection with people in other countries who need help. For my missionary work, I have considered a few possibilities. For right now, I know I want to find a country in medical need and help those people to the best of my ability. One of the primary goals of a missionary nurse is to prevent illness. I would be administering vaccinations to adults and children, as well as educating individuals on ways to eliminate infection causing micro-organisms. For instance, I could also share with these people the importance


Major: Nursing Hometown: Overland Park, Kan.

e Kelsey Karwoski


wo students sit in a classroom with books lining the floor. The student on the left is just newly arrived in America in order to get a better education, while the other student to the right has lived in the United States since birth. Although each student studies from the same university textbooks, they each have very different backgrounds. Avila University has given me the opportunity to learn more about people from different parts of the world and their specific backgrounds. The common reading program was an eye opening experience. Along with meeting the author of They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, I also was able to work with a food packaging organization, Stop Hunger Now. Being a part of these programs has changed my outlook on life and has impacted my point of view.

Survival is not a test of how strong someone is, it is more of a test of endurance and will power. Although bad circumstances can appear in life, if you have a strong willpower and a positive outlook on life, a lot can be accomplished. Avila University was founded on the principles of getting out in your community and making a difference. Because I am a product of the American education system, it is my duty to make a change as much as I can. They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky opened my eyes to the bigger problems in the world and made me realize how lucky I am to live in America and get a good education. I am thankful that I do not have to choose between eating or going to school each day when I wake up.

Before the common reading program, world hunger was not an issue on my radar. Because we come from a country that has a McDonalds on every corner, it is hard to imagine a country that does not even have running water. Alepho’s book opened my eyes to bigger problems in the world than a cracked iPhone or a car that will not start. Although a car not starting is not a good situation, if it were to happen to me now, I would look at the bright side of the situation even if it did not seem too bright at the time. Being able to package thousands of meals for children was a heartwarming experience. I could not imagine going to school and being hungry all day long. Although the rice meals are not much, I know that they make a big impact on the children who are receiving the meals. I hope that in some small way I made an impact on a child’s life who is struggling to eat and get an education, because education is so important. As a world we cannot grow and evolve with a third of the population uneducated. The common reading program has given me a brighter outlook on life, because I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that have been given to me. As an American citizen, I am given so many chances to educate myself and change this world we live in. In Alepho’s speech he said that each of us has “a calling in this world” (Deng, Truman Lecture Speaker, 2014). He believed that he survived his horrible past to travel the world and educate others on the problems in Africa and help make a change. I believe that my calling is to make a difference also. Avila offers many opportunities to get involved in mission work and make a difference in our community. Although I cannot personally go to Africa and help the Sudanese, I can contribute in my community here in Kansas City, Missouri. “What we did was not a huge act of kindness…it was simply putting someone before myself ” (Dr. Cort Miller, Truman Lecture Panel, 2014). Panel members from the Truman Lecture encouraged students to help out in their communities because small acts of kindness can change a person’s life. I can help package more meals or volunteer at homeless shelters. If everyone would have the mentality of wanting to help others, then the world would be a better place.

Major: Nursing Hometown: Lee’s Summit, Mo.

e Kaycee Dexter


eading the book, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, has impacted my life in a tremendous way. I can not imagine being driven out of my own house by soldiers just because my country could not agree on certain subjects. Although the soldiers were fighting for their own beliefs they went about it the wrong way. Driving people away from their homes without anything to survive on sounds completely absurd here in America. But despite anything, the Lost Boys showed us that our bodies are capable of almost anything, and that if you have faith and belief that you can do something, then you can. Family was also one of the main things that kept them going. Almost everyone has fights with their family and can not wait to move away, but the minute something tragic happens family is the most important thing, because they will always be there for you. Family also gave them determination to survive. If you do not have the will to stay alive, you would not survive. The boys could not simply take a nap because they were so dehydrated they would not wake up. Now I realize how strong determination can be. You can do almost anything if you are really determined to. To have determination is to have perseverance. The boys did what they needed to do to survive from risking their lives to escape, to swimming across crocodile infested water just to stay alive. The story of these boys has really made me realize that my determination is nothing compared to theirs. They learned English and went to school because they wanted to have a better life, while my friends and I complain about having to go to school and learn.

in America eat that much in one sitting. It just really amazed me how much they need people to help them. For years I have wanted to be a nurse, but I have also wanted to travel the world. I never thought of possibly going abroad to be a nurse until I started reading and being aware of how the conditions in some countries are. Now I would love to volunteer in another country. Seeing people die from diseases that are so preventable makes me cringe. Many do not even have the medicine to clean a simple wound. In the future I will try my hardest to not waste food and volunteer more than I have in the past. I tend to get caught up in my problems rather than looking at the big picture. I know I am blessed to live in the country I do and I plan to always keep that in the back of my mind. It amazes me how much hope people have in bad conditions. They are dying from hunger and I complain when a restaurant gets my order wrong. People in other countries do not get to choose what they eat, they just eat what is available. I am going to be more thankful for things as well. Overall, all the events connected to hunger and the Lost Boys have impacted my life in a way no other person could.

Reading the book gave me a really good perspective on what the boys actually went through instead of someone just telling me. I realized that it is worse than I imagined. When I saw two survivors in front of me talking about it I could not believe someone went through as much as they did. Now I take things more seriously when someone tells me that hunger and disease and danger is really high in surrounding countries. I know that I am lucky to be from a country where hunger or thirst is not one of the main causes of death. Nowadays I always try to eat everything that I get and not waste it. I also have gotten in the habit of buying food that I need instead of food that just sounds good. So much food in America gets wasted just from expiration dates. More gets wasted from people making or getting too much food to handle for themselves. The Lost Boys on the other hand, ate anything they could find that was safely edible and they split it between their family or their peers. One person was lucky to get a cup of food a day. That is how it is in some countries in the world. Almost everyone is aware of world hunger and people around the world in need, but a lot of people do not do anything about it or even think twice about how bad it is. I did not know how serious it really was until I went to Heritage Day and packaged food. Stop Hunger Now really put in perspective how big of a problem it is. One package of food went to feed 5-6 people. I see people


Major: Nursing Hometown: Ozark, Mo.

e Maddie Nieslanik


rom reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, participating in the Stop Hunger Now event, and attending the Truman Lecture; I further understand the endeavors people in conflict ridden zones undergo in order to survive. These experiences have broadened my understanding of how difficult life can be with little to no support from the people around an individual. They have also made me realize how essential it is to help people who ask for it, because something that may seem monotonous to one individual can be the most daunting of tasks to another. From previous research projects, I was aware of how people living in areas such as Sudan and Uganda are living with starvation as well as war, however after reading this book and diving into this experience, I have formed a deeper understanding of how difficult it must be for an individual to live in these areas. From reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, I gained an understanding of the mental drive and toughness it takes for an individual, especially a child, to survive hunger in such a conflict ridden area. Reading the book confirmed that as soon as I gain my doctorate I am going to spend a year in Africa serving with Doctors without Borders donating as well as helping primarily children but also adults who are in need. During Alepho’s lecture at the Truman Lecture I became aware of how important it is to help people when they ask for it. No matter how simple the task may seem to you, it may be the most difficult for another human being, but it is critical for survival. So, after I receive my doctorate in medicine, I am going to help all who are in need. I will work all day and all night to help someone who is in serious need, because I know that if I help that one individual, he/she may go on to help someone else, resulting in a never-ending chain of events. I am not fond of war, but especially in cases where innocent people are impacted from two opposing governmental forces fighting. This book showed me how demanding and selfish governmental forces can truly be and how ruthless people are. The boys who were able to survive the conflict inspired me to not complain so much about the simple tasks I am asked to complete and if those tasks are challenging, to persevere because there could always be something worse that I could be living through. I have thought more about how fortunate I am to live in America and how there is someone out there who is completing a much more challenging task than I am at the moment. The boys were able to survive through the bonds they created with their family members. They cared for those who were weaker than they and were determined to survive as a family. They showed me how having love for someone can make you do anything to make sure they are able to succeed in life whether that be eating a meal or teaching them how to do something. Once again I learned from this experience that no matter what, if you persevere, you will help yourself as well as the people around you. The story of the Lost Boys has impacted my world view by showing me how amazing people with a desire to live can be. These boys essentially had nothing and yet they were able to travel hundreds of miles and live through things many people in civilized countries could not imagine. Their story showed me how the way we live in America is much different from other areas in the world. After reading the book, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky I had a deeper understanding of what it meant to be hungry. People would always talk about how there were children dying of hunger in Africa but I would never think about it like I do now. Because of the things described in the book, I now know the things children have to undergo to survive in areas such as Sudan.

get a lot of food, but end up eating bits and pieces and throwing the rest away. Before doing the food chart I did not notice how much I ate and how much food I had available at my disposal. I knew that people in Sudan were dying from hunger but until recently I did not think about things I could do to help send them food. After completing the food chart, I have only put food on my plate that I will actually eat and tried to create as little waste as possible. I then thought about how the food I did not waste could be sent overseas to areas that had a shortage of food. I am fortunate to live in America because I have an unlimited availability to food whereas in Sudan many people are thankful to have a handful of rice for a day or two. Food is such an inevitable thing in my life, but after hearing the story Alepho told and reading the stories of the Lost Boys, I realized how naive I am about food availability and how much I take advantage of it being at my disposal. This experience does impact my calling in life because I want to help people and I want to make a difference. The biggest difference I can see myself making is going to a conflict region in Africa and serving a mission trip. As stated earlier in my paper I truly believe that this will cause a chain reaction of positive events where people want to help one another. All my life I have wanted to go somewhere outside of America and help improve the way someone was living or help solve a major problem. This experience makes me want to go to an African country and serve them in any way possible, even if it involves more than medically treating a patient. This experience relates to Avila’s mission and values through the message of caring about others and considering other people’s well-being before considering your own in certain situations. Avila’s mission and values are all about how you can better yourself through service and how to improve the lives of the people around you. If the only thing I learn from this experience is how essential it is to help someone in a time of need, then I will be a whole human being. This experience has taught me how important service is because in our case it helps feed people who truly do not have access to necessary goods (food). In the future I hope to be more cautious about what I eat and not focus solely on things that benefit only my interests. I truly believe that by helping other people accomplish their goals you become a better rounded person. By focusing on how much waste I produce I will not feel so guilty for people not having any food to eat while I am throwing away food that I never even touched. Works Cited Deng, Alphonsion. “Lost Boy.” Truman Lecture Series. Goppert Theater, Avila University. 9 October 2014. Lecture. Ajak, B., Deng, B., Deng, A. & Bernstein, J. (2005). They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York, NY: Public Affairs a member of the Perseus Books Groups.

After attempting the hunger challenge I realized how difficult it is to go a day without eating. I was not even able to go a whole day, so it is unimaginable how hard it would be to go multiple days without eating. After I completed the food chart and reviewed everything I ate, I realized that I

Major: Pre-Health Professions Hometown: Carbondale, Colo.

e Shelby Watkins


was sent my first college assignment over the summer and that is when Alepho, Benson, and Benjamin started becoming part of my day-to-day thoughts. I always compared what the three brothers were going through at the time in the book to things that were happening in my life and the differences between hurting and actual pain. Reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky forced me to look at my world and my feelings differently. Thoughts of never seeing my family again and sleeping on the side of the road with lice crawling up my shriveled body everyday truly scared me. As I read, I thought that I understood what the Lost Boys felt and had been through but when it ended, I realized that no one could ever understand a journey like what they described. No one will ever sincerely understand. They will simply have the opportunity of the knowing. Upon the arrival of the first month of my freshman year of college, I was informed that Alepho Deng was going to be speaking on campus. Throughout reading their book, I felt like I had known these boys and now I had the opportunity to put a face and a voice to a boy I only knew within the flipping of his pages. I felt excited but nervous about what else he could tell me about his journeys, not entirely sure if I wanted to know more or not.

You, as a teacher or a student, know the outcomes of this book. You know that the end makes the reader feel depressed and sad and guilty; but we are only human. Taking things for granted is a part of who we are. I think that, in a way, everyone repays the world by contributing relief to people who have experienced catastrophes like the war in Sudan, for example, packaging food for families in need or volunteering our time in shelters. We all can help these people who we read about just by giving up some of our time and I think that principle is what unites this world together. No matter who we are against and no matter who we are with, every one of us has the opportunity to contribute our time towards helping other people.

Receiving this book in the mail, it was just another summer reading project that needed to be done, but as I read, I began to form a relationship with these boys. I wanted to go back in time, head to Africa and take care of my little Benson whom I loved very much. This attitude is apart of who I am, I have always wanted to become a nurse and take care of people who are hurting. I live in California where the nursing programs are extremely competitive so I have always known that going out of state was what I needed to do in order to be successful. I left my family and my boyfriend for this education and I thought that I could get through the 1800-mile distance between us. I began to hate this school because it took me away from the things that I wanted more than anything. I would look up colleges in California that I could transfer to even though, deep inside, I knew that those colleges were not what I needed to be successful in the future. I need to be here. Caring for Benson and packaging meals for families in need helped me more than I thought it ever would. I realized that people need me in this world to be a nurse and to take care of them or their family. I know what my calling is and I am willing to challenge myself to get where I need to be, even if that means moving miles and miles away from the people I love. I am going to be successful.


Major: Nursing Hometown: Discovery Bay, Calif.

e Jimmy Aduddell


oing into my freshman year of college I did not know what to expect. I obviously expected to learn, I mean that is why people go to college, to get an education. But what I took away from my first year seminar class was much more than the average math, English, or history lesson. First year seminar was not just a class, it was an experience. The experience began the summer before my first semester when I read the book They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky. Then it continued when I got a chance to help package food that would go to helping children just like the ones who were in that book. Finally I had the privilege of getting to hear and see in person the man that not only wrote the book, but experienced all the horrific events that the book entailed. All of these experiences gave me an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective and gave me a real appreciation for the life that I have been given. The experience that was my first year seminar class started the summer before I began attending the class when I read the book They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky. This book told the story of the journey that three young men took to escape the war in South Sudan. It describes in great detail all of the horrendous obstacles; firefights, starvation, and crossing crocodile infested rivers to name a few, that these boys had to overcome just to get what we in America take for granted every day, freedom. This book gives its readers, an entirely new perspective on the subject of war. Those of us who have had the privilege of living in America our entire lives, thankfully, do not know what it is like to have a war being fought right outside our front doors. Sadly though, that is exactly what these young boys had to experience. I have never had strong feelings one way or the other about war, but have learned to think of it as a necessary evil. After reading this book I still consider it to be so, but I feel very strongly now more than ever that it is something that should be avoided at all costs. If a war must be fought as a last resort, every precaution possible should be taken to protect the lives of the women and children who live in the area in which the war is being fought. No innocent children should ever have to suffer what the Lost Boys in South Sudan had to. My first year seminar experience continued when I got the chance to work with an organization called Stop Hunger Now. This is an organization that packages and delivers meals to places all over the world where people are suffering from hunger. This experience gave me a new perspective on hunger. I have been hungry before sure, but I have never experienced the starvation that some of these people that we packaged food for experience almost every day. I have seen commercials on television talking about children starving and the ten cent donation I could make to help feed them, but I never believed that would really help them. I had no idea what an impact people could really make to help these others who are suffering just by taking an hour out of their lives to package food. My fellow classmates at Avila

University and I packaged over 26,000 meals in less than that time. Baylee DeLaurier, program manager at Stop Hunger Now, told us over one million children die every year from hunger. Then she said to us that by spending that hour packaging those meals we saved over 26,000 of those lives. That seemed incredible to me. I had no idea the impact that could be made by a group of college students packaging food for less than an hour. Then when we spent a day not eating anything but one of the meals that we helped package it gave me a new appreciation for what I have in my life. I will never again take for granted the fact that I know every day when I wake up in the morning I will not go that entire day without having a meal. Possibly the most rewarding experience in my first year seminar experience was getting to hear one of the authors of the book, Alephonsion Deng, speak in person. This was a man that as a young boy experienced horrors that I can not even imagine. When he got up to speak I was expecting to hear stories of how difficult his journey to escape the war was, or about all the obstacles and trials that he had to face. Instead he got up and talked about all the good that came at the end of his journey. He talked and made jokes about what happened as he was trying to adjust to life in America. I was amazed how a man that had been through so much pain could talk about only the good that came out of it. It really made me stop and think about how good of a life I really have, and how blessed I am to be born in America with all the opportunities and freedoms that we have. After the experience of first year seminar I have a new appreciation for many things that I took for granted. I realize that people all over the world do not have all the blessings that we have in America. We have never, and hopefully will never, have to experience a war being fought on our home soil. I never have to worry about going hungry or even going an entire day without knowing whether or not I will have a meal to eat that day. Most importantly I have learned to look at life the way Alephonsion Deng does. I have learned to look at the good that comes out of any situation no matter how bad the situation may start. The experience that was my first year seminar class is one I will truly never forget.

Major: Criminology and Justice Studies Hometown: Grandview, Mo.


e Maria De Ciechi


s the first semester at Avila University draws to a close, students enrolled in First Year Seminar have transformed from unsure freshman to confident college students who are ready to tackle whatever academic or social challenges await. We have learned the importance of prioritizing our academics and extracurricular activities through time management exercises, and we have been taught how to survive the madness of class registration and scheduling. Most importantly we have been encouraged to embrace cultural diversity within the Avila community, and have developed an understanding of social justice issues that affect the world. Reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, the stories of Benson, Alepho, and Benjamin gave insight on the unimaginable injustices the people of Sudan faced, and how indifference and animosity between groups of people can tear families apart. Even in the most desperate situations, The Lost Boys survived by taking care of one another, and shared what little they had with others who were in need. The Lost Boy’s journey has shown me what it means to persevere, and getting up no matter how many times I fall, is the only way to move forward. From reading the stories of the Lost Boys, I have learned the importance of asking and accepting help when needed. Their stories serve as a reminder that survival in this world depends on helping others survive and inspire me to give what I can to those who have nothing to give back. By reading the personal experiences of the Lost Boys, I am able to consider each individual victim affected by war, rather than seeing the victims as a faceless group of people. The stories of survival told by Benson, Alepho, and Benjamin are also the stories of thousands of other Lost Boys who tried to escape the war in Sudan. At the Kakuma Refugee Camp, the Lost Boys were given an education, something they considered a gift, which they wholeheartedly embraced. Although education can be so easily taken for granted, proper education is not readily available for individuals in places where violence and war are prominent social issues. Without the chance of an education, many people are confined to poverty. I have realized that my education is a privilege, not a right. I owe it to my parents, teachers, and everyone who have encouraged me in my life to remain focused and work hard on my studies. Education is truly a gift and should be treated as such. Through the Hunger Challenge, I fully understand the life saving difference a small meal can make for a child who is starving. Although participating in the Hunger Challenge may have seemed difficult, the hunger I experienced was small in comparison to the hunger children in many regions of the world face. In a world where there is enough food to feed everyone, hunger is a problem that should no longer be killing millions of people. However in Sudan, the hunger crisis continues to worsen, as many farmers have been displaced by the war and crops have been destroyed by violence. The meals the freshman class prepared have the power to save thousands


of children from the devastating effects of hunger and malnutrition, showing that our actions can have a lasting impact on the world. Realizing my vocation and what I am called to do in this world was challenging. I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world by helping, but did not know how. I was inspired by a verse from 1 Peter 4:10, which states “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” This verse helped me to understand that I need to pursue a career where I am able to use my talents and strengths to serve others. This led me to explore working in health care, where I discovered that I was interested in Radiology. Although there are many ways to define success, I believe that the best way to succeed in life is to do what you love. Following my calling will lead me to success, but I know that success depends on the effort I put into my studies, and the dedication I exhibit later in my career. The mission and values of Avila University are rooted in the Catholic teachings of the Sisters of St. Joseph. These values encourage academic excellence, and help students develop an understanding of the social justice issues that affect the world. Avila emphasizes the dignity worth, and potential of each human being. Events such as Heritage Day celebrate the uniqueness of each individual, and celebrate the diversity by allowing all students to learn and experience a different culture. By instilling these values, Avila is forming a respectful and compassionate human body. Interaction and service towards others are values that are an integral part of Avila community. Volunteering at Harvesters Food Bank along with the rest of the first year students allowed us to build community while serving the community. Food Packaging was also an opportunity for Avila students to exhibit interaction with our classmates, while providing food for people who have none. Because Avila strongly emphasizes community and service towards others, students feel encouraged to go beyond the boundaries of Avila to serve the local and global community. Events such as the Truman Lecture, the Hunger Challenge, and Heritage Day are all important for students’ academic and social growth and development and will have a lasting impact on the lives of students in the future. Students at Avila are challenged academically, but are also challenged to contribute to the greater good of the world. The mission and values of Avila University give students the tools to make a lasting difference, and help students succeed in the future.

Major: Radiologic Science Hometown: Dardenne Prairie, Mo.

e Emily Villarreal


hen reflecting on all the activities and experiences I have had thus far through this First Year Seminar class, I realize just how much I have learned about the world outside my own. Prior to reading the book They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, and participating in other activities related to main topics of the book, things that were not specifically happening to me and impacting my life were not all that important to me. I knew very little about the current or recent events of the world, and I feel that I did very little to make myself aware of the occurring events. Looking back now, I feel like I had a very selfish outlook on things. I rarely took the time to educate myself on current events happening within the United States, let alone on happenings outside of the country. The experiences I have had, pertaining to the book, events, and assignments of this seminar class throughout this semester, have impacted my thinking regarding many topics I once never thought twice about. One of the main topics that this semester has changed my thoughts on is war. I have always known that many tragedies came with war, however, before reading this book, I only ever prioritized the tragedies having to do with the soldiers of war. Before reading the firsthand account of what the civil war in Sudan was like for three young boys living in Sudan when the fighting first broke out, I had only known what war was like for adult, United States soldiers, not for Sudanese civilian children. After all, my uncle and godfather, Jason Kohler, has been a part of the United States Air Force for over 20 years. Despite the extensive amount of time he has lived his life as a member of the Air Force, getting news that he was to be sent overseas, into a warzone never was easy. Even if his deployment was only for a few months, the days can feel like years when you’re sitting at home day after day worrying about his safety. Nevertheless, when comparing my situation to that of the Lost Boys of Sudan, the worry I went through of whether or not my uncle was going to come home, was spent sitting in my nice, cozy home, parents and siblings by my side, knowing that at the end of the day, I would still have a bed to sleep in and food to eat each day. I am sure that entire scenario was one the Lost Boys would have traded their own situation for in a heartbeat.

want to imagine what it would be like to be separated from my parents the night when the initial gunshots of war were being fired, and the next day never again having the opportunity to see them, hug them, or hear them tell me they love me, and that everything was going to be okay. The experiences the three young authors—Benjamin Ajak, Alephosian Deng, and Benson Deng— of their time in Sudan are heartbreaking to say the least. Even though at the time their lives were flipped upside down my life had not yet begun, I hate the fact that the atrocities Benjamin, Alepho, and Benson had to endure so many years ago, continue to inflict their pain and heartbreak on thousands of other children in Sudan today. Until this book and this class, I had no idea of any of it. Then again, I suppose I can not be all that surprised at my lack of knowledge, considering I never took the time to step out of the bubble that is my life and keep myself up to date with the current happenings of my own nation, let alone those of the globe. This habit, however, is not going to continue in my life. Another thing I believe this experiences had an impact on, is my future. After everything I have read, heard, and done, I feel compelled to do something to make a difference. I feel it is of the utmost importance that I stop turning a blind eye to what is happening around the world, start educating myself on the things happening around the globe, and more importantly, start doing something to make an impact. Even if I can only manage to help one suffering family, one struggling mother, one starving child; it would all be worth it.

Admittedly, prior to reading the inspirational stories of the three authors of They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, Benjamin Ajak, Alephosian Deng, and Benson Deng, I did not know the full extent of struggles men, women and children face every day in Third World countries, let alone have the complete picture of how these struggles multiplied during times of war. I could never imagine coming home after elementary school one day and finding out that my father was in the hospital due to a lion attack. Then again, if I were truly in the shoes of those living in isolated, rural places like Benjamin, Alepho, and Benson, it would not be school I was returning home from, it would be the fields and flocks of sheep I would be returning from. Conversely, I do not

Major: Psychology Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

e Ryan Meyer


hrough the first semester of first year seminar I have learned many things. The book we read They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky has been a true inspiration in my life. Before school started I was very skeptical about reading this book but I can say it was one of the best books I have read. The book reminds me of how grateful I am to have the opportunities I have in the United States. The culmination of reading the book, listening to Alephonsion Deng author of They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, and the panel discussion have been an amazing experience I will never forget. The book They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky is a book that is written with justice given. What I mean by justice given is that Alepho and the other authors do not fail to be candid about their journey. The journey these young boys take across the Continent of Africa is one that I cannot imagine taking. They face many obstacles such as starvation, crossing alligator infested waters and losing family members (JohnDeng, Truman Lecture Panel, 2014). To read about the sheer determination that the Lost Boys of Sudan had is a true inspiration to many including myself. They have taught many lessons but I believe the number one lesson we can learn from the Lost Boys is that you can overcome anything if you set your mind to it. There is never a task too big as long as you put your mind to it and stick with it. We can apply this lesson to our life everyday, obviously not in the same sense as the Lost Boys did, however, but we can take the gifts we are given and build on those.

Packaging food also brought out a new experience that was very unique. As a class, we packed meals for Stop Hunger Now which is an organization which helps the hungry. I learned so much about how easy it is to feed people with a simple meal. It showed me how easy it is to show compassion for others while taking only forty five minutes out of your day. The simple act of scooping ingredients into a bag goes farther that you could ever imagine. The more we teach others about the world’s problems the more the awareness will increase. People may not show their potential, but everyone has the potential to do amazing things through simple actions. The overall experience of the Truman Lecture has truly been a great experience. The more and more we spread awareness for particular issues the better the outcome may be. I sincerely believe that I will read the Truman Lecture book each year that I attend Avila. The first hand experience we have learned so far about a global issue through our first semester at Avila is more than I would have ever imagined learning at college. This goes hand in hand with Avila’s mission of preparing for global contributions. Works Cited Deng, Alephonsion, Benson Deng, Benjamin Ajak, and Judy Bernstein. (2005) They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York: Public Affairs

While reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky one particular point stood out to me. Many things, such as bravery, courage and eagerness are characteristics that cannot be taught. An individual has the opportunity to embody these characteristics, however they are not shared by the average individual. We see throughout the book these boys encounter things which would be detrimental to the average adult; however, they push through all obstacles in order to reach a better life. The boys show how truly mature they are while being such a young age. It is amazing to see that the boys act as if they are adults on a journey that many adults would not be able to endure. The boys showed great strength and courage which in turn bought them a chance at a better life as refugees in the United States. A few weeks ago while doing my food chart I started to see how spoiled I was to be able to eat all of the food I wrote on my chart. The Lost Boys were faced with starvation which makes their journey so much more impressive. The food chart also showed me how much food I waste on a daily basis. When we are given an opportunity to eat in a buffet style cafeteria we often take too much food that we end up throwing away. If we were able to save some of the food we do not eat and would be able to redistribute it, we could help solve the issue of worldwide hunger.


Major: Business Administration Hometown: O’Fallon, Mo.

e Paige Dosch


his experience has changed my thinking about hunger in many ways. Through Stop Hunger Now I learned that 805 million people in the world do not have enough to eat (Stop Hunger Now 2014). This number is down more than 100 million over the last decade. Also, one in every nine people on our planet goes to bed hungry each night. Never would I have realized hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined (Stop Hunger Now 2014). I feel like a lot of Americans are like me, and do not realize how big this number is. We know a vast majority of hungry people live in developing countries, but it is not something that comes to mind when the word hunger is said. Another thing this has really taught me is how price and income swings can significantly affect the poor and hungry. When prices rise, consumers often shift to cheaper, less-nutritious foods, heightening the risks of micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition, which can have long-term adverse effects on people’s health and development. This is why we need to get involved and help. This experience has changed my world view, my perspective, and my future choices I will make. This experience has also impacted my view of the world. I am globally ignorant, in that I do not know what goes on in the world besides what goes on inside my little bubble in my life. This whole semester has really opened up my eyes to everything that goes on in everyone’s world, not just mine. Currently in the Sudan there is a war occurring where the Sudanese troops have killed thousands of rebel fighters during the battle in the border providence of South Kordofan. Over seventy eight thousand people have fled the country for this reason. Also, South Sudan shut down oil production after accusing Sudan of stealing eight hundred and fifteen million dollars of its oil. Sudan says it confiscated the crude to make up for unpaid fees to use the pipeline and processing facilities in its territory. And later on they claimed the Heglig oil fields, which account for over half of Sudan’s oil production (Sudan Fast Facts 2014). Without reading this book and going through this experience I would not have the initiative to go out and care about these issues that are happening out in the world today. This experience has completely changed my view on food consumption and the availability that one country has in comparison to another. Working in a restaurant I see the astounding amount of food that people waste every day that just goes to the waste and the landfills instead of to hungry people that could benefit from it. Americans waste over seventy billion pounds of food, while fifty million people go hungry. Stop Hunger Now informed us that forty percent of ready for harvest food in the United States never gets eaten. Meaning that the United States spends about one billion dollars a year just to dispose of food waste (Stop Hunger Now 2014). When we participated in the packaging of the food we were informed that stop hunger now meals only cost twenty nine cents each to produce. This means that instead of spending a billion dollars on throwing food away, we could spend that money and save over a billion lives. But the availability is the problem. There is not a wide availability of food in the Sudan. The book illustrated this fact, in that they never got food unless the World Food Programme sent rations, and even then they barely got any food (Deng 2005). It is so sad that people have to live this way, not knowing when and where their next meal will come from.

for responsible lifelong contributions to the global community” (Avila’s Mission and Values). This connects to how it is our responsibility to bring attention to and help out everyone in our global community, not just our immediate community. Our university provides us with the opportunities and knowledge that we need to go out and be a productive member of the world by addressing the issues, such as hunger, that the university presents to us. The university’s values are excellence in teaching and learning, Catholic identity of the University, sponsorship and contribution of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the worth, dignity, and potential of each human being , diversity and its expression, commitment to the continual growth of the whole person and interaction with and service to others. These values align with the things we experienced because it essentially tells us how to help with the issues going on in the Sudan. For example, the value of worth, dignity, and potential of the human being was really shown in the book and the lecture Alepho gave when he showed that all the Sudanese people wanted to do was live, and how the troops treated them as less than people (Deng 2005). The university shows us that even though we do not know the potential of everyone they should still be treated with worth and dignity, as everyone has worth. Alepho was not treated with any dignity or worth, but he persevered and came to America and made something of himself. He is an inspiration to us all, and proves that everyone has potential, no matter what situation you come from. These values are all amplified through our Truman Lecture events and take hold in our hearts as we got to experience just a bit of what people in this world go through every day. This experience will impact a lot of my future choices I make. I am going to think twice before just grabbing food, because if I have to think about it, then it may be saved from being thrown away. Also, I really want to get involved with Stop Hunger Now, and want to have “packaging parties” where we do what we did in the gym and package meals to send to people in the Sudan. It goes to show that a little effort can go a long way, and one person really can help. So I can not imagine how much help a group of people can be, and hopefully that turns into one hundred people, then a thousand. This whole experience has impacted the way I think and I hope it has done the same for all of my peers as well. Works Cited “Avila’s Mission and Values.” Mission and Values of Avila University. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <>. Ajak, B., Deng, B., Deng, A. & Bernstein, J. (2005). They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. New York, NY: Public Affairs a member of the Perseus Books Groups. “Stop Hunger Now.” Stop Hunger Now. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.>. “Sudan Fast Facts.” CNN. Cable News Network, 18 Apr. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <>.

This experience connects to the mission and values of Avila University. Our mission “is a values-based community of learning providing liberal arts, professional, undergraduate and graduate education to prepare students

Major: Pre-Health Professions Hometown: Raymore, Mo.

e Haley Marconett


ver since I was a little girl, my mission in life has been to help people. I would always be helping my mom or trying to make my siblings feel better when they were sad. In elementary school, I started going with my church to help serve dinner to the homeless of Kansas City. In middle school, I started my travels to other states where we would help rebuild, tutor, and uplift those who needed it. Once I reached high school, my mission spread outward. I was called to Haiti and Slovenia on three international mission trips, one lasting over two months. I felt whole, complete, and knew that I was fulfilling the plan laid out for my life. I recently was called in a different direction, to marriage. I am married to a wonderful man who makes me laugh, holds me when I am sad, and brings more joy to my life than I thought possible. My husband is a 100% disabled veteran at the young age of 21. He was in an accident, paralyzed, and learned how to walk again after a yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth of intense rehabilitation. Needless to say, he requires a lot of help and we go to doctor appointments between two and five times a week at the local VA. This has made it difficult for me to understand my place. Yes, I know I was called to be a wife, even though I am young. And yes, I have been called to missions my whole life. However, with my husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s condition, I can not and will not just leave the country or state for even a week to help others, when my husband needs me the most. This has been my dilemma for the past 11 months that I have been married, because I do not know where mission fits in with my new life. This is the area in my life in which Avila has helped me the most, impacting my calling and vocation.

becoming more involved with that. Not only that, but Kansas City itself has such a great need for help. I can not even count how many food pantries in Kansas City need help stocking their pantries, organizing them, and distributing their food. On the same level, I can get involved with one of my favorite places, the Forest Avenue Womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Shelter, where I spent a lot of my time in middle school. While there, I helped make meals and served them to the women and children, played with the kids, and really heard the women open up about their lives. It is such a joy to invest in these people. There are so many ways to help in Kansas City, and these are just a few examples. I am so grateful to Avila University and the Truman Lecture Events because they have opened my eyes to get reconnected with my goal and have helped me find a way to incorporate it in my life today. This experience has had such a big influence on my thoughts regarding calling and vocation, and has impacted my future in a way that I will forever be grateful. This experience that I have gained, and the passion that has been re-lit in my heart make me forever indebted to Avila. I am so grateful and can not wait to incorporate the values and missions I have learned into my life today.

This is the reason why I am so grateful to Avila for giving us first year students the opportunity to experience a different culture through a book, through presentations, and through hearing real-life stories from the source. We even had the opportunity to participate in packaging over 26,000 meals for those who need it, all in just an hour of our time. Avila University gave us the opportunity of a lifetime. By reading, hearing, and investigating the lives of others in a completely different culture than the one we were raised in, it has opened our eyes, tugged at our hearts, and for some of us, has given us a greater calling than just participating in the university activities. The Truman Lecture events personally opened my eyes to how I can make a difference here. I feel my calling for missions again. Not my calling to go international, or even to other states but my calling for home. I feel my call for missions, right here in Kansas City. I know what I am supposed to do now, and how missions fit in with my new life and caring for my husband. All I had to do this whole time was open my eyes and look around me. There are so many opportunities here in Kansas City that I have never even seen before. For example, I can still play a part in international missions by participating in Stop Hunger Now events and


Major: Nursing Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

Reflection Excerpts e Saeed Alsharari Hometown: Saudi Arabia, Major: Nursing

I think this experience impacted my future to help me succeed and accomplish my goals. Because of it I have learned that there is nothing that is impossible in this life as the Lost Boys showed us in what they achieved . I can push on myself to reach what I want and I can be what I want because I am the only one who can decide who I want to be or who I do not want to be.

e Molly Benoit

Hometown: Liberty, Mo., Major: Nursing They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, a fantastic book, was very informative. I had never heard about the conflict in the Sudan, or ever heard the term “Lost Boy”. This book was such an eye opener to what is happening in the world. Far too often, we only hear about the two or more main groups fighting in the war, but we never hear about the people that get caught in the crossfires. A quote that the author used describes it best, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.” (Ajak, B., 2005, Preface) This book has truly opened my eyes to what is happening in the world. I want to be an advocate for social justice and tell people about this book and the stories of these three amazing boys and their incredible journey. The final and most moving event that happened through the first year seminar was the Truman Lecture. Getting to hear Alepho speak was a truly life changing experience. I already knew about some of his struggles from his chapters in They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, but getting to hear about his life before and after his tragic years during the civil war was truly inspiring. The way he told his story was so true and so incredible that he left me with a sense of hope. He said something that I do not think I will ever forget, “We cannot forget what has happened to us, but we can choose to become a better person and bring joy to others.” Through his whole struggle, the lesson he took away is the importance of being a truly good person to others. When I signed up for this class, I had no idea it would change my outlook on life. This was not just some class that made me look at a world different from my own; it did so much more. It has made me more thankful for the life and the opportunities I was blessed with and made me want to make a difference in any way that I can.

e Reid Burger

Hometown: Spring Hill, Kan., Major: Undeclared I believe that perseverance and determination go together because they are basically the same thing. Determination can help you reach a point that you need to get to and not let you settle for something that is short of your goal. Perseverance is the ability to keep going towards your goal even when you feel like you can not go on anymore and you just want to quit. The Lost Boys of Sudan experienced them both, because they went through difficult times when they wanted to just lie down and stop moving towards their goal. They had determination and they persevered to get to somewhere safe to reach their goal.

e Gabbi Ebers

Hometown: Sedalia, Mo., Major: Pre-Health Professions Last May I had to come to SOAR advising day at Avila to make my schedule and make sure I was ready to start my freshman year this fall. We were all sitting in the pavilion and Darby Gough told us we would have to read a book over the summer and write a report over it. I thought she was kidding at first. I dreaded doing it for most of the summer and put it off, but after I read it I realized that it was life changing. The events of this past semester in our seminar class have made me sure about my vocation. I want to live out the married life and have children, but it has definitely impacted my calling. I am planning on becoming a physician in the future. I would love to be able to visit third world countries and help get them medical treatment and supplies. I also want to be able to give money, food, or whatever is needed to people in need. The experience to me most resonates with the Avila mission of “interaction and service to others.” This experience has shown me that I must be more active in giving and in service to others. They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky makes me want to be more aware of what is going on in the world. Before reading the book, I had no idea about the civil war in Sudan or The Lost Boys. In the future, I want to make sure I know about events that are happening, and I want to be knowledgeable about them, especially if they have to do with people that are in trouble or that are hurting. In the future, I want to do more to help those who are in need whether it be donating my time, talents, or money.


e Emily E. Elam

e Jodi Johnson

Throughout the last couple of months, I and the other first year students have participated in the Truman Lecture events…. I, personally, have found this series of events very interesting and eye-opening. Each activity has positively influenced me more than what I ever thought it would. Every time we completed an activity, it really made me stop and think about how lucky I am, and how good of a life I really do have.

Reading the book from the Lost Boys and listening to them speak has really made me appreciate the technology we have in America and how it helps us stay connected with our family. The Lost Boys from the very beginning were separated from their parents, siblings and friends. They could not call to check if their family was still alive and okay, and they could not drive to go see them the way that we can and do in America. The Lost Boys were going through the roughest, hardest time in their lives and they did not have their family with them for support. When I am going through a hard time my family is always close by or at least a phone call away. This to me seems like it is the hardest part of the journey for the Lost Boys.

Hometown: Rock Port, Mo., Major: Radiologic Science

I also realize that this experience connected to the mission and values of Avila University. Part of the mission and values of Avila are about serving others and contributing to the global community. The Truman Lecture events are exactly that. We have served and contributed to others by packing food to be sent to people in other parts of the globe. Completing the series, we are also now more aware of what really goes on in the world outside of our own country. Knowing this, my future has also been impacted. I now want to give and help provide to less fortunate people…. In my future, I plan on continuing to volunteer for these types of projects. Not only does this mean I will be contributing to others, but I will also be giving myself a feeling of accomplishment and pride knowing I have positively affected someone else’s life. This experience has definitely inspired me and has been a big eye opener. My future has been impacted in many ways from this one program. I can truly say that I am leaving this experience with a better understanding of what we can do to help alleviate oppression of our neighbors both close to us and those across the globe.

e Daniel Gray

Hometown: Shawnee, Kan., Major: Pre-Health Professions Every time these boys were given a task or something to read or learn, they tried their hardest to learn or complete the task. They gave all their effort into learning and becoming better people. This experience will impact my future because I will never forget this story or the experience of it all as long as I live. It makes me want to work as hard as these boys, because they did everything at their full potential and made it out of probably the most difficult adversity that anyone could possibly endure. Also, it helps me further believe that I can do what I want in life and truly make the most of what I have, and if I want something in life I just need to go for it.


Hometown: Kansas City, Mo., Major: Radiologic Science

e Shelby Less’Ard-Springett

Hometown: Leawood, Kan., Major: Radiologic Science Reading about the experiences of the Lost Boys was difficult. I personally read the book, while I was on plane, heading to England to see friends and family. The book was extremely good, but parts of the book just made me want to put the book down, because of some of the horrific things these people went through. As I read the book, I was reminded that the Lost Boys never gave up hope for a better life, or even things to get better. They kept walking, even when times were tough; it reminded me that even through hard times you have to keep going and that better things will come. This experience has truly impacted and changed my life. It has made me less wasteful when it comes to food, more appreciative of my family, and reminded me that rough times in life can only get better if you keep going. I am so glad I have had these experiences and it will always be a reminder to me throughout life as I grow older.

e Shaelyn Matkins

Hometown: Overland, Mo., Major: Nursing This experience could potentially impact my future in so many ways. It could give me a passion for helping others not only in nursing like I have always wanted but to travel and do ministry and nursing overseas. It has also sparked a sincere interest in my wanting to help people to a further extent; to go out of my way to help someone in need and to get out of my comfort zone. This experience has taught me to appreciate everything, including the smallest things. It opened my eyes to the broader spectrum of life: To rely on God and myself. To love others well and to make sure that everyone around me is doing okay and being aware if they need any assistance. It taught me to stay strong, courageous, bold, and humble and most importantly to never give up.

e Jake Morrissey

Hometown: Lenexa, Kan., Major: Biology Avila University was founded by the sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Their ideals have always been about serving others. The concepts that we have discussed in class go hand in hand with what the sisters have always believed. I believe that the sisters have bestowed these certain virtues of charity into the very school itself and the talk about Sudan is the best way to pass it on to us students.

e Bradley Partner

Hometown: Trowbridge, GB United Kingdom, Major: Business Administration The way in which this experience might impact my future is the help I can ultimately give to the less fortunate. This can involve things such as volunteering at a homeless shelter every Sunday …. This experience has made me aware of the problems around the world and the actions needed to be taken to solve them. Helping a person day by day gives the satisfaction needed to make me a better person.

e Haley Pickert

Hometown: Overland Park, Kan., Major: Nursing The story of the Lost Boys from Sudan also impacted my world view. I now think more about my life and the world I live in. I am lucky to live in America where we are not at war. I am fortunate enough to have shelter, food, clothes, and clean water at my fingertips. I was shocked as I compared America to the conditions that were described in They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky. I can sit in my safe, air conditioned house with food only a few steps away. I can walk into my bathroom and have light by just flipping a switch. I can lift a handle that allows clean water to pour out into a sink. I can sleep in a clean bed. I can look out my window and see cars driving down paved streets. I could not imagine living in Sudan after hearing all the astonishing stories told by the Lost Boys. Therefore, my world view has completely changed. No one should have to live in the conditions like the Lost Boys. I am thankful each day for what God has given me. The Lost Boys have impacted my view on the world. Also, I feel fortunate that I was able to make an impact on home lands overseas by packaging food that would be sent all over the world, including Sudan.

Additionally, my experiences through First Year Seminar also impacted my thinking regarding Calling and Vocation. I feel God put me on this earth to help others. After reflecting on my experiences this year, I would like to branch out even farther and assist people in need across the world. The Stop Hunger Now program was just one organization that is branching out to feed the starving people across the world. During the Truman Lecture, Alephonsion Deng told his personal journey in Sudan. Hearing him speak was a oncein-a-lifetime experience. The man that survived the treacherous journey across Sudan was actually standing a few feet away from me. This presentation had a great impact on me as I listened about how Alephonsion changed his own future. I was sitting in my chair astonished by the real-life stories he was telling. I felt that was God’s way of calling to me and saying, “you can help others even if they are half way across the world.” First Year Seminar also directly connects to the mission and values of Avila University. One of Avila University’s goals is to make a difference in the world. I feel the entire First Year Seminar process has allowed me to help impact the world and many people. I was able to help be a part of a process that makes me feel like I have grown not only as a person, but also as a student. Fortunately, Avila values continual growth of a person. Personally, I feel I have grown tremendously in this first semester. My growth started when I read They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky and the entire experience in First Year Seminar will help me continue to grow forever.

e Ernest Pierre

Hometown: Port St. Lucie, Fla., Major: Computer Science When Alephonsion Deng, author of the book They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky came on stage to speak, the pause he had before he spoke just gave me chills. I felt every pain he encountered through him speaking and how humble and optimistic he was about it just gave me all the more reason to be strong. I have become a better person and understood myself better from the speech Alephonsion gave. His transition from Africa to America was a struggle and from how he was always so happy to try something new and keep striving, tells me everything is possible.


The Truman Lecture opened with a panel discussion. Pictured l to r: Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D. (moderator); Fr. John Deng (panelist); Karen Garber-Miller, Ph.D. (panelist); and Cort Miller, Ph.D. (panelist).

The week of the Truman Lecture students heard from Baylee DeLaurier, Program Manager for Stop Hunger Now.

Moderator and Chair Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D., opens the Truman Lecture in Goppert Theatre.


Alepho Deng, author, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, and featured speaker warmed the hearts of the audience with his message of hope.

Bob Regnier, Chairman, President and CEO of Bank of Blue Valley, Alpeho Deng and Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA, President, Avila University all enjoy the company of one another.


Alepho graciously signed hundreds of books for students including Ryan Pedersen, Haley Smith, Hannah Pingleton, Conner Hetzler, Anna Schnoebelen, Mia Rosinski, and Haley Pickert.

Joe Fahey, Avila University, Board of Trustee; Ana Valdez â&#x20AC;&#x2122;96, Avila University, Board of Trustee; Alepho Deng, author, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky and featured speaker, and Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA, President, Avila University visit together before the lecture.


Sister Marie Harris, Ph.D., CSJ., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Avila University; Cort Miller, Ph.D., lecture panelist, and Karen Garber-Miller, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Dean of the school of Education, Avila University, lecture panelist, visit at a reception prior to the lecture.

Students package food in partnership with the non-profit organization, Stop Hunger Now.

Bracelets made from the rice bags used for packing the food with Stop Hunger Now were distributed to show outward support for the campus Hunger Challenge.


Alepho Deng, author, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, and featured speaker and Patrick Moore, Avila student, visit prior to the lecture.

Ashley Medlock, Avila first year student, shares her culminating essay at the Open-Mic at the end of the fall semester.

After hearing from Baylee DeLaurier, Avila first year students receive a rice meal as part of the Hunger Challenge Day.


e Savanna Smith

Hometown: Lee’s Summit, Mo., Major: Radiologic Science My experience at Avila – including reading the required text over summer, Harvester’s, the Stop Hunger Now program, and guest speakers – has enlightened me on worldwide hunger. Growing up, I always had enough food. I never went hungry, I never went days or weeks without food or water, and I never knew that everyone did not live the way I did. I thought everyone had plenty of food and water to keep them sustained. However, the older I grew, the more knowledgeable I became on world hunger. I learned there are starving people in almost every crevice and gully on this earth, and the fact that many of those people are dying from starvation.

grateful for all that I have. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, that I do not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from, and most importantly that I have my family. The Lost Boys rarely had these things; they were always wondering when they were going to find food again. If there is anything that I have learned throughout this semester is to not be so quick to judge someone. If I were to walk up to Alepho, for example, without knowing him, I would think he looked like any normal man would. I would have no idea of his horrid past. You never know what others have been through; that is why you must always have an open mind and open arms.

For the future, I wish to help out with world hunger in any way I can. I plan to volunteer at many places in order to aid in the problem. I hope to one day see the solution to the food availability problem. The answer is out there, someone just needs to take the initiative and do it, and that could be you.

This open mind and open arms concept can be beneficial to anyone. This concept will apply to me directly in my future. I am currently studying Radiologic Science to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. I hope to become a Radiation Technologist with my degree. There could be some times where I will be exposed to patient records and no matter what their past says about them, they are still a patient in need. My job is to help people, not be judgmental towards them. This is where the open mind and open arms concept comes in to play. I will have an open mind to those in need and open arms to help them in any way I can.

Hometown: Kansas City, Mo., Major: Business Administration

e Karli Wilson

Hometown: Loveland, Colo., Major: Pre-Health Professions

The major impact of this experience for me was when we went a whole day without eating anything but a Stop Hunger Now package of dried vegetables, rice, and soy. This showed me what people who are truly hungry are actually feeling and going through. Even when we ate the package of dried food, we were complaining that it tasted bad and it had no flavor. During that moment I actually thought: I should be thankful that I have something to eat, even though I am going to have some food later in the day.

I have gained an extensive amount of knowledge through meeting Alepho Deng, to reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, and to helping fight hunger. Many of these experiences have changed my outlook on many topics such food availability and consumption. My experiences in First Year Seminar made me appreciate the simple aspects in life. These experiences, along with Avila’s core values, will help guide me through the rest of my life.

e Alex Vega

e Jennifer Ward

I believe that a few values of Avila University were depicted throughout this learning experience. Diversity and its expression were shown when I learned that hunger is not just in certain areas. People all over the world are going hungry. Hunger does not discriminate; it hurts everyone in various countries. Interaction with and service to others really resonated with me throughout this experience. I found this especially prominent when we went to Harvesters; I absolutely loved going to Harvesters. It felt so great knowing that I was helping so many people and the work was fun, too!

All of my experiences have thoroughly connected to Avila’s core values, and more specifically, the potential of each human being, continual growth of the whole person, and service to others. When I helped packaged meals to end hunger, I was only beginning to reach my full potential as a human being. Many of us have enough food at home or on campus to eat. Therefore, by helping others who are in need, I am going beyond what is expected of me. I believe that one is not truly reaching their full potential if we do not go above and beyond. I have also learned about the continual growth of the whole person. For example, our First Year Seminar class has taught me to be a well-rounded person. This includes physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, and so much more. The class informed me about how to work on these aspects.

This experience has allowed me to be very aware of the words that come out of my mouth, and the actions that I take. After reading They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, I have felt eternally

For example, I can form a network of friends and family for emotional support. Last but not least, there is the service to others. I experienced service when I helped package 26,000 meals or when

Hometown: Belton, Mo., Major: Radiologic Science


I volunteered at Harvester’s. I was helping eliminate hunger. It is important for me to give back to our community and others when I can. This service also helps me achieve my full potential and my continual growth of the whole person. I will reach my full potential through service, which also helps me become more well-rounded through social and spiritual aspects. All of my experiences with First Year Seminar, Stop Hunger Now, Heritage Day, and the Truman Lecture have connected to Avila’s values and has

Personal Reflections e Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D. Chair, Truman Lecture Series Professor of Education and Psychology

The Truman Lecture provides our students with an opportunity to meet inspiring individuals who have had a significant impact on the lives of people around the world. This wonderful program allows them to experience the Avila mission personally. It encourages them to explore their own potential to help the dear neighbor.

e Paige Illum, Ph.D.

Coordinator of First Year Experience Coordinator of Retention Adjunct Faculty Our goal is to provide the students with a meaningful academic experience while living our University mission and the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph to help our dear neighbors. Avila’s mission shares that we will “prepare students for responsible lifelong contributions to the global community.” This experience is the initial step in accomplishing this commitment to our students and honoring our relationship with the Sisters of St. Joseph.


positively influenced my life. All of these experiences and knowledge have changed my life in immense ways. I have new insights on war, hunger, and food availability and consumption. My life has been enriched with this knowledge that will successfully carry me through the rest of my life. I only have the utmost gratitude for what Avila has done for me in my first year of college, and I hope I can share my amazing experiences with others.

e Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA Avila University President

The power of the Truman Lecture Series and Avila’s Common Reading Program is to inform and educate our students of global issues that need to be addressed. The revelation is they can begin to change the world, right now.

From l to r: Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D., Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA and Paige Illum, Ph.D.

Appendix A: Avila First Year Students Vance Adesanya Jimmy Aduddell Abdulrahman Alamri Jessica Albina Jessica Aldrich Brianna Alfaro Feras Alharbi Waleed Alnajjar Fahad Alobaid Logan Arcano Keeley Audas Vernon Aziah Kenny Baker Natalie Baker Amalia Barrett Judy Becker Wyatt Beebe Kirsten Bennett Molly Benoit Logan Betts Larry Bosworth Brandon Brewster Courtney Brightwell Reid Burger Sara Collins Stephen Conway Alicia Crosley Michael Dalangin Nash Dawson Maria De Ciechi Jesse Dean Laurel Dehn Jimmy DeKraai Jacob Desselle Kaycee Dexter Kayla Dinwiddie Paige Dosch Dylan Doss Elizabeth Dyer Gabbi Ebers Caleb Edwards Tommy Edwards Emily Elam Randel Emakoua Ashlie Emerson Alfonso Estrada Katherine Fairbanks McKenzie Fairman Brooks Fairman Michael Finck Tanner Finnegan

Selah Fontenot Connor Ford Avery Fowler Gunnar Friend Jonna Garcia Raul Garcia Mallory Gaston Javon Goodman Casey Gordon Charlie Gotschall Daniel Gray Chris Grissom Kyle Gross Zach Hampton Damien Hendricks Chris Hendrix Anthony Herrera Conner Hetzler Maci Hodges Dillon Hopkins Lauren Hopper Nick Horne Joey Hoversten Ransom Howard George Howard Holly Huffman Madi Johnson Jodi Johnson Jessica Johnson Danny Johnson Shabari Jones Araceli Juarez Mckenna Judge Kelsey Karwoski Kelsey Keune Regina Kheir Shakanah Kilen Abby King Becky Kitchen Grant Kuecker Cassey Kuehn Crystal Lake Sarah Lane Richie Lane Ty Larsen Quentin Laurent Shelby Lessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ard-Springett Jessica Lewis Lance Lewis Ariana Linnenbrink Beth Luder

Kiersten Ludwig Leilani Luker Jerry Manan Haley Marconett Courtney Martin Mackenzie Mathern Shaelyn Matkins Jenessa McCoy Abby McEnaney Kaytee McLucas Sarah Mead Ashley Medlock Ryan Meyer Sara Montgomery Jake Morrissey Shakila Muhammad Indra Mursid Shea Myer Kensley Nazelrod Regine Nelson-Bowls Hayley Newlin Cristina Nicolosi Maddie Nieslanik Amanda Nolen Saul Nunez Elliott Oley Jessica Owens Alonzo Page Bradley Partner Ankur Patel Ryan Pedersen Brianna Peralta Katelen Permenter Haley Pickert Ernest Pierre Hannah Pingleton Maggie Plas Levi Plaschka Tyler Pugh Vanna Quinn Yessica Ramirez Julia Ramsey Robert Ray Eric Reeb Gracyn Reed Andrew Reed Megan Rhodes Kelsy Ritchel Mary Robbins Dixie Robinson Justice Robinson-Casabar

Mia Rosinski Ryan Sanchez Luci Sarcone Matt Scaletty Stacey Schimmel Mason Schmidt Anna Schnoebelen Jasen Sebelien Lansana Sesay Malcolm Sesay Jordan Shewmaker DaJuan Simms Jordan Simons Samuel Small Jozie Smiley Savanna Smith Haley Smith Dominic Spalitto Caleb Spangler Ysabella Sperling Sara Sprinkle Antoine Stevenson Olivia Stine Rebekka Strahle Garner Strong Maddie Summerfield Alex Thomas Lonnie Todd JT Turner Kyler Turpin Justice Tyson Lexie Ultican Joshua Vaughn Alex Vega Michelle Venegas Emily Villarreal Christopher Wallerich Brandon Wampler Jennifer Ward Kelly Warden Shelby Watkins Haley Watts Christopher Wiggins Keonna Williamson Karli Wilson Alyssa Winters Amber Woods Sarah Woodward Kayla Young Stephen Young Ismail Zabihullah


Appendix B: Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Series Program AVILA UNIVERSITY

Lecture Series

Alepho Deng


ident Harry S. The permission was resident of Avila

Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Series

Columnist n & Welfare nk of Bob


American Olympian

Lof grass-roofed cottages, cattle herders and

iving in an insulated, close-knit community

tribal councils, Alepho was seven years old when government-armed Murahiliin began attacking his and other nearby villages. Just a child, Alepho fled the chaos and violence in the middle of the night. He and thousands of other Lost Boys traveled more than one thousand miles across a war-ravaged country, through landmine-sown paths, crocodile-infested waters, and grotesque extremes of hunger, thirst, and disease. After five years of fleeing war, starvation and wild animals, he reached Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and began his education. Nine years later, in 2001, the U.S. welcomed him as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Soon after, Alepho was cast in the Russell Crowe movie “Master and Commander.” His memoir, written with his brother, Benson, and cousin, Benjamin, entitled, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, was a Los Angeles Times Bestseller and has won many awards including the Christopher Award and Washington Post’s Top 100 books of the year.

and thank project:

y Gallagher Western Dining on Harris en Lampone a Stansbury lye Tabor

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan is the book selection for Avila’s 2014 Common Reading Program for first year students.



featuring Alephonsion

ual Fund

(Alepho) Deng

Co-Author, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan



Fr. John Deng Cort Miller, Ph.D.

Karen Garber-Miller, Ph.D.

Sudanese refugees and members will discuss their experiences during the transition from the refugee camps to Kansas City.

Panel Presenta

Moderator ..................

Panelists ......................


Harry S. Trum


Host ...........................

Guest Speaker ............ Executiv

Harry S. Truman Disti

October 9, 2014 // Goppert Theatre



Panel Presentation

e-knit community attle herders and n years old when began attacking his child, Alepho fled ddle of the night. Boys traveled more rough landmine-sown of hunger, thirst, and d animals, he reached

the Lost Boys e movie “Master enson, and cousin, as a Los Angeles Times pher Award and

Goppert Theatre • 3:30–4:30 p.m.

Moderator .................................................................. Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D. Professor of Education and Psychology Panelists ...........................................................................................Fr. John Deng Cort Miller, Ph.D. Karen Garber-Miller, Ph.D.


Goppert Theatre Lobby • 4:30–5:30 p.m.

History of Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Series Avila University received exclusive rights from former President Harry S. Truman to establish a lecture series in his name in 1970. The permission was granted to Sr. Olive Louise Dallavis, CSJ, who served as President of Avila University from 1960–1985.

Past Lecturers

William F. Buckley Joseph Califano Bob Harris Nancy Landon Kassebaum Clarence M. Kelley Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ Louis Zamperini


H Distingu

Political Analyst, Author & Columnist Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare Author, The International Bank of Bob Kansas Senator Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation Social Justice Activist WWII prisoner of war, 1936 American Olympian

We would especially like to recognize and thank the following for their work on this project:

Harry S. Truman Distinguished Speaker

ree Lost Boys from Reading Program for

Goppert Theatre • 5:30 p.m.

Alepho Deng

Welcome..................................................................... Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D. Host ........................................................................... Ron Sleptiza, Ph.D., CSJA President, Avila University


Guest Speaker ................................................................................Bruce Easterly Executive Vice President & Chief Lending Officer, Bank of Blue Valley

ces during the

Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecturer ........................................ Alepho Deng Reception and book signing immediately following.


Avila Office of Advancement Avila Office of Marketing and Communication Avila University Theatre Department Eric Ayers Campus Services

Committee Members

Kelsey Gallagher Great Western Dining Jason Harris Stephen Lampone Katrina Stansbury Shellye Tabor

Sue Ellen McCalley, Ph.D.

Committee Chair Professor of Education and Psychology

Bailey Carr, ’09, ’12, M.A.

Director of Alumni and Annual Fund

Robert Foulk, M.F.A.

Director of Performance Studies Associate Professor of Theatre

Angela Heer, CFRE

Vice President of Advancement and External Relations

Paige Illum, Ph.D.

Coordinator of Retention and First Year Experience

Ann O’Meara, MBA

Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communication

featuring Al

Co-Auth The tr


Appendix C: Avila University and Stop Hunger Now


vila University partnered with the non-profit organization Stop Hunger Now whose mission is to package and ship meals to people in need through community supported meal packaging programs. In Fall 2014 over 26,000 meals were packaged by first year students, first year seminar instructors and mentors, individuals from the Bank of Blue Valley and Avila alumni. These meals were combined with others and shipped from the Overland Park, KS Stop Hunger Now warehouse to Swaziland located in Southern Africa. The meals were received by in-country partner Salesian Missions.

dren to live better lives and build brighter futures. The Salesians of Don Bosco operate 5,000 schools and technical training centers, 23 colleges, 216 clinics and hospitals, 225 orphanages and shelters, and run a wide variety of social and economic development activities throughout the world. In each country, the Salesians work with children in orphanages, primary and secondary schools, vocational training, churches, recreation centers and various other social programs. The addition of Stop Hunger Now meals enables the Salesians to provide for the nutritional needs of the students enrolled in their development programs.

Salesian Missions is a network of 34,000 Priests, Brothers and Sisters around the world who work to enable poor and suffering chil-

Avila University


A special thank you to the Bank of Blue Valley for making it possible to send food to Swaziland and to bring the 2014 Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecturer, Alepho Deng, to Avila University.


Common Reading Program


vila University provides a common reading for all first year students as part of the First Year Experience. Student success research is clear about how this type of program can assist in emphasizing academic importance prior to the start of classes and assist in building community within a first year cohort. All Avila first year students receive information about The Common Reading Program during the summer prior to the start of classes. The topic of the Common Reading Program is always global in nature which connects with Avila’s mission of providing students with opportunities to prepare for contributions to the global community. 2013 The International Bank of Bob by Bob Harris An inspiring memoir of an ordinary American who turned his brief brush with opulence into a joyful adventure of investing in the world’s working poor. 2012 Unbroken by Laura Hilenbrand A World War II story of survival, resilience and redemption of Louis Zamperini. 2011 The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer A remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. 2010 Series of Articles Related to Hunger and Poverty Reid, Barbara. (2009, July 20-27). Always Enough: Heavenly Bread. America, p.45. New York: American Press, Inc.

“Finding the Flexibility to Survive,” Copyright © 2008 by Brighton Earley. Part of the This I Believe Essay Collection found at, Copyright © 2006-2009, This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission of This I Believe, Inc. United Nations. (2009). The millennium development goals report. New York, NY. “The Time to Help Is Now,” Copyright © 2008 by Maria Zapetis. Part of the This I Believe Essay Collection found at, Copyright © 2006-2009, This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission of This I Believe, Inc. 2009 Series of Articles Related to Hunger and Poverty Vidal, John. (2008, September 24). All out on poverty: Hunger: what has been achieved? Guardian Newsprint Supplement, p.2. London, England. “Finding the Flexibility to Survive,” Copyright © 2008 by Brighton Earley. Part of the This I Believe Essay Collection found at, Copyright © 2006-2009, This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission of This I Believe, Inc. United Nations. (2008). The millennium development goals report. New York, NY. “The Time to Help Is Now,” Copyright © 2008 by Maria Zapetis. Part of the This I Believe Essay Collection found at, Copyright © 2006-2009, This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission of This I Believe, Inc.

Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Series


vila University received exclusive rights from former President Harry S. Truman to establish a lecture series in his name in 1970. The permission was granted to Sr. Olive Louise Dallavis, CSJ, who serviced as President of Avila from 1960-1985.

Recent Past Lecturers William F. Buckley Joseph Califano Clarence M. Kelley Nancy Landon Kassebaum Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ Louis Zamperini Bob Harris


Political Analyst, Author & Columnist Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation Kansas Senator Social Justice Activist WWII Prisoner of War, 1936 American Olympian Author, The International Bank of Bob and Jeopardy! Champion

ig h b o r


lpi n g t h e

a e D



STUDENT REFLECTIONS First Year Experience The Lost Boys of Sudan 2014 Truman Lecture Series

Avila University • • 11901 Wornall Road • Kansas City, Missouri 64145 • 816.942.8400

Truman Lecture Series - Student Reflections 2014  

Helping the Dear Neighbor, Student Reflections, First Year Experience, "The Lost Boys of Sudan"

Truman Lecture Series - Student Reflections 2014  

Helping the Dear Neighbor, Student Reflections, First Year Experience, "The Lost Boys of Sudan"