Super ELL Stories: Jacob Atem

Jacob Atem ELLName: Jacob Atem
Born: South Sudan

Jacob Atem’s parents were killed in the Second Sudanese Civil War when he was a small child.  At age 6 he was forced from his village and walked for days to find a refugee camp.  He survived a lion attack, crossing a river with crocodiles, and extreme heat and hunger.  Jacob was one of more than 20,000 “Lost Boys” of Sudan who faced similar challenges.

Jacob eventually made his way to the United States.  In Sudan he had limited access to education; he shared one book with 50 other people.  But in the United States Jacob was expected to learn English and read Shakespeare.  It was very difficult, but he graduated high school and went on to get a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and pursue his doctorate.  

Jacob dreams of rebuilding what the war destroyed in his home country.  Together with another Lost Boy, Jacob has created the Southern Sudan Health Care Organization and has opened a clinic that serves 100 people a day in his home village.  He is also raising money to return to his former refugee camp so that he can study intestinal diseases in children under 5, which should help save children from preventable diseases.

Click here to download Mawi Learning’s ELL Heroes: 7 ELLs Who Are Changing the World workbook.This free resource was created to inspire ELL students to become the superheroes they are meant to be.

Amanda received an undergraduate foundation in Communication, with concentrations in Sociology, Cultural Competence, and Conflict Transformation. She went on to work at a refugee resettlement agency, and later became the lead author of Mawi Learning's Super ELL course. She is currently planning Mawi Learning's Powerful Educator Conference and utilizing her recent master's degree by working as a Couple and Family Therapist.

Category: Super ELL Stories