Graduation forum (Issue 24, 2010)


The Lost Boys that participated in the Forum with organiser Suzanne Fegan

At the end of 2009, the La Trobe Refugee Research Centre (LaRRC) chaired the Sudanese Lost Boys Graduation Forum at the Bundoora Campus.

The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of boys forced to flee their homes and families in the 1980’s, during Sudan’s second civil war. They had to walk months on end to reach refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, barely surviving the journey. Aid workers named them ‘Lost Boys’ after the fictional characters in Peter Pan.

Approximately eighty guests gathered to celebrate the achievements of young Sudanese refugees and Professor Sandy Gifford, Director of LaRRC welcomed the guests and opened the forum with a speech.

Clement Deng, graduating from a Bachelor of International Development from
La Trobe University made a speech thanking the Australian people for the support he received.

‘I found it challenging adjusting to academic study in Australia. I had to learn how to use a computer from scratch and referencing essays was a challenge. Sometimes it was hard to understand the lecturers’ accents,’ says Clement.

Clement was 28 when he arrived in Australia, and now lives in Glenroy where he works at a supermarket on the weekends. While here, Clement has been an active member in his community, helping tutor those with little or no English and getting them information about health services and settling in Australia.

Around 35 other Sudanese Lost Boys have graduated from Australian universities over the years, and the Forum also celebrated their success.

Ms Suzanne Fegan, Academic Skills Advisor, made a speech congratulating the graduands, and she was joined in her praise by Victorian Premier John Brumby.

The forum also screened a short documentary produced by the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Centre staff, titled ‘The Lost Boys of Sudan: the journey from refugee to graduate’.

The event continued with traditional dancing, drumming, singing and refreshments provided by La Trobe University.