Refugee forced to flee his country will tell his story at Lawrence Public Library

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Samuel Dermas, a KU doctoral student from Eritrea, will share his experiences as a refugee at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lawrence Public Library.

A University of Kansas doctoral student who was forced to flee his country will share his story Wednesday night at the Lawrence Public Library.

The student, Samuel Dermas, began working on a second doctoral degree this semester at KU. He is originally from Eritrea, a country in east Africa bordering the Red Sea. Eritrea had been at war with Ethiopia, on its southern border, for 20 years until a peace treaty was signed in July 2018.

Dermas will talk about being a teacher in Eritrea and how, after the military took over his school, he had to flee without his wife and children, said Charles Olcese, director of KU’s International Student Services.

Dermas spent several years in Ethiopia before coming to the U.S. in September 2018 via the Episcopal Migration Ministries. He was sent to Wichita, where those counseling him realized his best opportunity for resettlement and employment was for him to teach, Olcese said.

Olcese met Dermas at an orientation hosted by International Student Services in January.

Dermas finished his doctorate in English as a foreign language while in Ethiopia. He is now pursuing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. He hopes to establish residency in the U.S. and bring his wife and children here from Eritrea, Olcese said.

Dermas will share his story at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. The free event is sponsored by the Lawrence Interfaith Refugee and Immigrant Ministry, which strives to create a welcoming community for refugees and immigrants.


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