International students enrich campus cultural diversity and provide new perspectives on global issues
Neither Luis Choc ’06, a native of Belize, nor Abraham Dut Jok ’08 of Sudan, had easy journeys to PLU. Both overcame significant barriers to achieve their common quests: acquiring the knowledge and skills that will help them make a difference back home.
My primary intention is to go back home to work in the government to represent my people. - LUIS CHOC '06
Luis Choc: A voice for his people Luis Choc, 29, grew up in a small village in western Belize, a Central American nation of roughly 273,000 on the Caribbean coast.
Choc and his parents, along with his seven siblings, worked on a farm, growing corn, beans and rice. Because of economic and educational disadvantages, he attended school only up to sixth grade.
The living conditions in Choc’s village were primitive: contaminated water, no electricity and inadequate medical supplies. When Peace Corps workers came to his village, they taught him English, which opened his eyes to the existence of cultures outside his own.
At 14, Choc contracted malaria, which he now says was a life-altering event. He knew then that something had to change.
“If I don’t do something about this,” Choc said he thought to himself at the time, “nothing is going to happen.”
Choc, after several failed attempts, obtained a student visa, which he used to attend other colleges in Washington state. He is now completing a second bachelor’s degree, this one from PLU, in political science.
“I know I’m coming here for a reason,” said Choc, “and that is to get a better education. My primary intention is to go back home to work in the government to represent my people.”
Choc hopes to attend law school, perhaps in the United States. He says he wants to be a voice for his fellow citizens, making their needs and desires known to the Belizean government.
Abraham Dut Jok: Improvement through education
In the early ’90s and in the midst of Sudan’s civil war, Abraham Dut Jok, called Dut by his friends, became separated from his family. He was just 6 years old.
I see a lot of things that are wrong that need to be fixed, but I see only one way that it can be fixed, and that is through education. - Abraham Dut Jok
Jok, whose mother and brother were killed during the war, also lost track of his father and two sisters, none of whom he would find until years later. He was forced to rely on friends as he moved between refugee camps in Sudan and Kenya.
When his friends left Africa for the United States, they urged him to join them. But Jok, apprehensive about leaving his country, did not come to the United States until December 2000.
After arriving in Washington state, Jok lived with foster families and attended Ingraham High School in Seattle. When he began thinking about college, he considered state schools, primarily because of the daunting costs of private institutions. Nonetheless, a friend encouraged him to tour PLU.
“I came here and was just loving it because of the people and their attitudes,” said Jok, now 21. “Just passing through Red Square, people act like they know you.”
After visiting one class, Jok decided PLU was the place for him. He is currently fulfilling general university requirements, and is interested in pursuing a major in political science or another social science.
“My interest in political science comes from what I’ve been through,” he said, adding that his long-term goal is to return to Sudan to work with the Sudanese government in some capacity.
“I see a lot of things that are wrong that need to be fixed,” he said of Sudan’s politics, “but I see only one way that it can be fixed, and that is through education.”
Jok said he also would love to teach Sudanese children someday. He believes educated and informed youth are crucial to cultural quality.
“There is no society without youth involvement,” he said.
PLU is fortunate to have students like Abraham Dut Jok and Luis Choc, who enrich the community’s cultural diversity and provide different perspectives on global issues.
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