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Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's…

Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp…

by Mawi Asgedom

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A straightforward narrative, not very well written, with a moralizing tone I found tedious. I enjoyed learning about his life, but wasn't sure that, as told, it warranted a publication. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
This slim memoir is snipets from Mawi Asgedom's life and lessons learned. Born in Ethiopia, his family was separated and fled to Sudan. Eventually coming to U.S., Asgedom explores what life was like in a new country and the treatment he received at school. There are large bits about his parents and brother. Mawi was determined to make the most of his opportunities and went on to Harvard.
The book is conversational in style.
We're using it for a all school read project this year. ( )
  ewyatt | Jan 29, 2013 |
Of Beetles & Angels is a contemporary autobiography of a young man's journey to success. When he was four years old, Asgedom's family left their war-ravaged home in Ethiopia and spent three years in a Sudanese refugee camp before coming to the U.S. in 1983. He later earned a full scholarship to Harvard where in 1999 he delivered the commencement address. Told from Mawi's point of view as a teenager, he describes the conditions in Ethiopia, their escape to Sudan's refugee camp and finally their emigration to America. Once in the United States, things don't immediately fall into place. Mawi is faced with many trials and tribulations, hardships and pain. Nonetheless, he follows his fathers advice to "treat all people- even the most unsightly beetles - as though they were angels sent from heaven," Mawi overcomes racial prejudice, language barriers and financial disadvantage, eventually realizing his dream. Not the best writing in the world, but the story is very good. Mawi is now a motivational speaker. ( )
  Dottiehaase | Jan 13, 2012 |
A desperate, cold and hungry mother and her small children determined to reach their father continue down the dark and miserable journey from war torn Ethiopia to the Sudan.
This is recounted in the non-fiction story of Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom where the struggles of an immigrant family are told by their son, Selamawi. His rise out of poverty and discrimination by hard work and dedication is the point of the story. The family consists of: the father Haileab, a doctor and pharmacist in his native Ethiopia and Eritrea; the mother who raised the family of four by herself for several years while Haileab had to escape to Sudan to avoid being drafted or killed in the civil war raging in their homeland; the four young children including the author Mawi, known as Selamawi, and his older brother Tewolde. Overcoming the challenges of their predicament while still giving as much as they could to others is a reoccurring theme in this book. This is proven when Tewolde and his brother Selamawi came upon a shivering and hungry old man “We should give him our sandwiches,”(p.64) said Tewolde. These two boys came from a family of nothing but each other yet were taught to be generous to all they encountered.
The fierce civil war forced this poor family to go off into the unknown with nothing but the clothes on their back. They ended up in America. This however turned out to be a great blessing that they had fled. Thirty years later Haileab went back to his homeland of Ethiopia where all of his friends and relatives were dead from the war. The struggle of being black, poor and uneducated is demonstrated by the father screaming at his sons not to fight back when they were attacked by school bullies as they were almost daily. "In the Sudan we had to fight everyday or they would keep beating you. We are not in Sudan anymore. From now on, let them hit you. Come home beaten and bruised. Do not ever fight back”(p.40). This was part of their adjusting to a new world and new culture. The story contains many such culture clashes. The author narrates his growth through persistence and hard work from being a poor, illiterate native immigrant to a stunningly successful end result.
The way the author described his struggle was easy to identify with and be inspired by. He shows that through persistence all things are possible! This is a valuable lesson for me as well as for Selamawi. The spiritual aspect of the immigrant’s dream was also inspiring “As long as you remember, you’ll share the spirit of the two who dreamed it”(p.134).-J.A.
  StonehamHS_Library | May 2, 2011 |
Mawi tells the story of his childhood, fleeing Ethiopia with his family as a young child and then he tells of his growing up years outside of Chicago. Struggling at the poverty level, the family perseveres, always pursuing excellence in education. Mawi is there as a teenager when his older brother dies from an unecessary car accident shortly before his high school graduation and again when his father dies just a few short months later. After high school Mawi wins a full scholarship to Harvard. Mawi's persistence towards excellence pays off and he begins to tell his story publicly.

I read this story this spring as part of a workshop training in ELL offered at my school. We do have a multicultural population at our urban school and I found this story to be relevant. Just this morning one little first grade girl shared that her father had been murdered. This is true, it's reality for many families here. This was eye opening to me.

In the classroom this month we are circling the globe. We are learning a song about the 7 continents and we're looking at one country a week. This week it's Italy. Next week India. After that Vietnam. Then Africa. I have a parent volunteer lined up to share their country. An appreciation for our heritage, no matter where we are from, matters. ( )
  nancyjensen | May 13, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316826200, Paperback)

Now in a paperback edition, this acclaimed memoir tells the unforgettable story of a young boy's journey from a refugee camp in Sudan to Chicago, where his family survived on welfare. Mawi followed his father's advice to "treat people . . . as though they were angels sent from heaven, " and realized his dream of a full-tuition scholarship to Harvard University. Updated with 14 black-and-white photos and a new epilogue.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An autobiography of a boy who, at the age of three, fled civil war in Ethiopia by walking with his mother and brother to a Sudanese refugee camp, and later moved to Chicago and earned a scholarship to Harvard University. Includes recipes and discussion questions.… (more)

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