Human Rights Activist and Former Child Soldier Ishmael Beah to Speak at NAFSA 2015 International Education Conference in Boston



Rebecca Morgan,, 202.495.2553
Katie O’Connell,, 202.495.2559

WASHINGTON, November 6, 2014 – Human rights activist, bestselling author, and former child soldier from Sierra Leone, Ishmael Beah will speak at NAFSA: Association of International Educators’ 2015 Annual Conference & Expo in Boston. Beah appears at NAFSA following the release of his second book. His work reminds us of the importance of raising awareness of children’s rights at a time when war continues to define the realities of many young people in parts of Africa.

After losing his parents and brothers during the brutal outbreak of civil war in Sierra Leone in 1991, Beah was forcibly recruited into the war at age 13. He fought as a child soldier for more than two years before he was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home by UNICEF. In 1998, Beah moved to New York City where he completed high school, and then went on to graduate from Oberlin College in Ohio. Throughout his high school and undergraduate education, Beah continued to advocate for the plight of child soldiers and children affected by war around the world.

"Quite simply, children should never be exposed to the horrors of war let alone be active participants in them," said Beah. "Education is so important for rehabilitation and reintegration of children directly affected by war. Together we need to instill hope in these children and create better lives for them through education. It is also important that citizens of the world understand the impact of war on children so they can raise their voices against it."

Beah’s internationally acclaimed autobiography, A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, is a New York Times bestseller and has been described by the critics at Washington Post as a book everyone in the world should read. His new novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, is also being hailed as a hopeful and inspiring tale which tells the story of two friends dealing with the realities of postwar life in Sierra Leone.

"Ishmael Beah truly understands the importance and impact of the work of international educators globally," stated NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson. "His commitment to children affected by war will inspire them as they work to develop the global leaders of tomorrow."

Beah is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and president of the Ishmael Beah Foundation, which helps children affected by war reintegrate into society and improve their lives. Find out more at Beah will address the NAFSA conference on May 28, 2015 in Boston. Learn more about the speakers as they are announced at

About the NAFSA Conference
NAFSA’s 67th Annual Conference and Expo is the world’s largest gathering of professionals in international education with an expected 10,000 attendees from over 100 countries.

The conference offers a wide array of learning and networking opportunities for international educators, and features more than 200 sessions and workshops focusing on the most crucial topics in international education and exchange and global learning. It will be held in Boston, May 26-29, 2015.

A major highlight of the conference is the International Education Expo Hall, which features over 400 exhibitors representing hundreds of organizations from around the world including colleges and universities, study abroad and intensive-English programs, embassies and government agencies, and more. The conference theme for 2015 is "New Horizons in International Education."

Learn more at

With nearly 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit