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Persell Middle School Seventh-Graders Hear From Author

Persell Middle School seventh-graders recently had the rare opportunity to hear from author Linda Sue Park, who wrote one of their ELA books, “A Long Walk to Water” and also one of its main characters, Salva Dut, through a distance learning lecture beamed from Monroe Community College in Rochester. The online lecture is a preview of Park’s in-person talk, which is scheduled to take place at the Reg Lenna Civic Center in May.

The distance learning opportunity came after students read and discussed “A Long Walk to Water,” which tells the story of not only Mr. Dut, but also the fictional Nya, who is from another Sudanese tribe, the Nuer. Students read the literature closely alongside complex informational texts that focused on background on Sudan and factual accounts of the experiences of refugees from the Second Sudanese Civil War. Students also explored characters, point of view, and created a poem comparing and contrasting the points of view of the two main characters.

Park talked about how she met Dut in Rochester and decided to write a fiction book based on his story. Salva, from the Dinka Tribe, is a Sudanese Lost Boy due to the Second Sudanese Civil War. He escaped Sudan with thousands of other refugees, and the book is based on the story of how he survived. As a Lost Boy, Dut was taken to Rochester where a family adopted him. His life’s work is focused on providing safe, clean drinking water for all in Sudan including drilling water wells for both the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Park is using “A Long Walk to Water” as a platform to support Dut’s program, Water For South Sudan.

Students had an opportunity to prepare questions for Park and Dut.

“Being able to hear from the author and one of the novel’s main characters really brings the book to life for the students,” said Grace Johnson, Persell Middle School teacher. “It helps open their eyes to important events (that they may not be aware of) happening around the world. The students truly enjoyed having the opportunity to listen to a contemporary author talk about her book and learn more about the passion of someone like Salva.”

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