It took 13 years before Akwasi Frimpong found a place he could call home. Frimpong, UVU student and Olympic hopeful, was once considered a refugee, one of millions of refugee youth that have looked for a place to call theirs.
From Oct. 10-14, ‘Outcasts Speak’ week featured two refugee UVU students, Claudine Kuradusenge and Frimpong, along with Amy Wylie from Utah Refugee Services and Luma Mufleh, an inspirational speaker and national refugee advocate.
‘Outcasts Speak’ week offered a chance for students and faculty alike to hear from voices now made strong and sure by a refiner’s fire, and to learn from some who have stood up for people in need.
Accoding to Martha Wilson program coordinator for UVU’s Student Success & Retention Center, students can learn from and admire the speakers and be challenged to support and involve local refugee communites.
Kuradusenge is originally from Rwanda, Africa, but grew up in Belgium. She lost both parents when she was a child and came to the United States to survive, receive an education and a better life.
Frimpong, a.k.a Golden Sprint, was born in Ghana, but was brought to the Netherlands by his mother when he was eight years old. Discovered at age 15 as an exceptional athlete, he started training for the 100m and 200m sprints under his coach Sammy Monsels.
Two years later he won the gold in the NK (Dutch) Junior Championships for the 200m sprint. He was not allowed to represent the Netherlands in the Kingdom Games in Aruba later that year because he did not have his residency permit. It was not until 2009, after first receiving two denials when filing for residency, that Frimpong became a naturalized citizen of the Netherlands.
Mufleh was the keynote speaker to conclude the week. Her story is found in the book, “Outcasts United” which takes place during the 1990’s in Clarkston, Georgia. She is the coach recognized in the book and her story tells of refugee boys from many different countries that were brought here with not much more than the clothes on their backs. Her experience is one of bringing these boys together to form the “Fugees,” a soccer team to help them find a “home.”
Their stories teach about persistence and patience through the toughest of times. Frimpong held onto three principles: power in believing in yourself, power in self-discipline and power of persistence.
“You have to keep going to achieve your goal,” Frimpong said.
By Jamie Ghormley