Sudanese Refugee and Subject of Book "What Is The What" to Give Talk at NWU

Valentino Achak Deng, the subject of the book What Is the What? will speak about his experience as a Sudanese refugee during an upcoming Nebraska Wesleyan University lecture.

Deng was born in Southern Sudan, in the village of Marial Bai. He fled Sudan in the late 1980s during civil war, when his village was destroyed by murahaleen — the same type of militia that currently terrorize Darfur. Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps where he worked as a social advocate and reproductive health educator.

In 2001 he resettled to Atlanta and began touring the country speaking about his life in Sudan and his experience as a refugee. He collaborated with author Dave Eggers on the book What Is the What, a novelized version of Deng’s life.

Today he serves as co-founder of the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, a nonprofit organization, which works to increase access to education in post-conflict Southern Sudan by building schools, libraries, teacher-training institutes, and community centers. The Foundation’s first major project was the construction and operation of a 15-structure educational complex in Deng’s hometown of Marial Bai. The Marial Bai Secondary School opened in May 2009 and is the first high school in the entire region.

Deng’s free lecture will be Thursday, November 11 at 1 p.m. in Olin B Lecture Hall. A book signing will follow.

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Valentino Deng will share his personal story at a Nov. 11 Forum lecture.