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News Release

March 19, 2021

Sudanese refugee to discuss experience of fleeing to America

By Kourtnie Stenwall, communication assistant

John Bul Dau, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” will discuss the experiences chronicled in his book and the documentary “God Grew Tired of Us” when he visits Northwest Missouri State University.

The lecture, sponsored by Northwest's Student Activities Council, begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, in the Mary Linn Auditorium at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. Dau will speak and answer questions about his journey.

The presentation is free, but attendance is limited to 141 audience members and tickets must be reserved online at Attendees will be required to adhere to Northwest’s COVID-19 mitigation measures, which include wearing a face covering and maintaining at least six feet of distance from other individuals.

“We hope Mr. Dau’s story prompts students to consider their culture and society from an outsider’s perspective,” Sydnie Platt, director of lecture programming for the Student Activities Council, said. “John Bul Dau will help the audience learn a great lesson in how people of different backgrounds can find common ground and fit in. We hope that the audience is inspired by his story and considers viewing society from more than one perspective.”

Dau was born in war-torn Sudan, and his village was attacked in 1987 by government troops involved in the civil war between the Muslim-controlled government in northern Sudan and non-Muslims in southern Sudan. The violence scattered his family, and Dau was forced to travel on foot to the relative safety of Ethiopia. But he was forced to flee again four years later when civil war broke out in the region.

As one of thousands of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” Dau wandered hundreds of miles and faced disease, starvation and violence until arriving in Kenya. While living in the Kenyan Kakuma refugee camp, he attended school and earned a prestigious Kenyan Certificate for Secondary Education in 2000. In 2001, he was brought to Syracuse, New York, with 140 other young Sudanese refugees. 

Despite the initial culture shock, Dau has been successful in the United States and can proudly say he is living the American Dream. He is an experienced social entrepreneur and has founded four non-profit organizations: The Sudanese Lost Boys Foundation of Central New York, the American Care for Sudan, John Dau Foundation and the South Sudan Institute. 

Dau’s move to the United States and early experiences in the country are the subject of the film “God Grew Tired of Us” and chronicled in his memoir of the same title. He has earned many awards for his public achievements and charitable work.

“In some ways, John's story of coming to the United States is comparable to students from places very different from Maryville coming to Northwest,” Platt said. “Our goal of Student Activities Council is to bring a wide variety of speakers, topics, and discussions to campus, and we felt that Mr. Dau would be a perfect fit in achieving our mission.”

Northwest’s Student Activities Council plans and administers activities for students to contribute to a more well-rounded social, recreational and cultural life on the Northwest campus and its community. For more information about Student Activities Council and its programming, visit or follow SAC on Twitter with @NW_SAC or


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