Global Advocate for Peace Ishmael Beah to Address NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference
At age 13, Ishmael Beah was handed a gun and told to fight. He was forced to ignore his innate gentle nature and soon discovered himself empowered to commit horrific acts of violence. For 2 years, he served as a child soldier in the brutal civil war in his native Sierra Leone.
Removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home by UNICEF, a still-young Beah was handed an even more powerful weapon: an education. At the age of 18, Beah came to the United States, where he completed high school and later graduated from Oberlin College. Armed with a pen, a powerful voice, and an inspiring story, Beah became a best-selling author and advocate for children around the world affected by war.
"Quite simply, children should never be exposed to the horrors of war let alone be active participants in them," says 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 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. Recently, Beah and the foundation turned their sights on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, raising awareness about the devastating impact of the disease on local communities and working to raise funds for children’s tuition and related school fees for when the outbreak has been controlled and educational opportunities resume.
On May 28, 2015, Ishmael Beah will share his inspiring story with attendees at the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference & Expo in Boston, Massachusetts, during the 4:00 p.m. Thursday plenary session, sponsored by Northeastern University.