In 1998 Ishmael came to live with his American family in New York City. He completed high school at the United Nations International School, and subsequently went on to Oberlin College in Ohio. Throughout his high school and undergraduate education, Ishmael continued his advocacy work to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers and children affected by war around the world, speaking on numerous occasions on behalf of UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Secretary Generals Office for Children and Armed Conflict, at the United Nations General Assembly. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Childrens Rights Division Committee and his visit to CMC is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights and the Athenaeum.
In A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007), Beah, now 26 years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of 12, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By 13, hed been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope.