Sharing Wisdom: John Dau ’05

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There is no slowing John Dau. The President of the John Dau Foundation, which provides healthcare and nutrition programs to the citizens of South Sudan recently published his third book. His latest work, “The Pillars Of Wisdom” is a collection of stories and folk tales that are told in the traditional Dinka style, which instill values and lessons through the adventures of animals and humans as they interact with nature. When John lived in Sudan before civil war ravaged his homeland and forced him to flee, he was and still is a member of the Dinka tribe.

The Dinka pillars of wisdom are: respect, empathy, honesty, fairness, sharing, listening, welcoming, brother/sisterhood, friendship, love, perseverance and other subliminal lessons. “In my homeland, we told stories to help fill the young with wisdom acquired from the tribe. They rang true when I struggled to maintain my identity, my faith, and my hope as a Lost Boy of Sudan in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya (…) They ring true today, as I live and work as a U.S. citizen, husband, father, and foundation president in New York and Virginia.”

_V6B9010John has received numerous awards for his humanitarian efforts, chronicled in his 2007 book “God Grew Tired Of Us,” which documents his time as a child growing up in Sudan, escaping his homeland due to civil war, and his journey to America. The book was later turned into an award winning documentary.  He was honored as an OCC Alumni Face Recipient in 2007 and was most recently recognized as an American Association of Community College Outstanding Alum in 2014.

To purchase the book visit www.johndau.com. John currently lives with his wife and four children in Virginia.

“Lost Boy” Comes Home

John Dau, ’05 posed for a photo with OCC students. His book, “God Grew Tired of Us,” is the subject of this year’s common read.

Sixteen years after arriving in the United States as a refugee John Dau experienced one of the great thrills of his life when his life story, “God Grew Tired of Us,” was chosen to be OCC’s common read for the 2017-18 academic year. “This is the first place I ever went to school in America,” Dau said. “To have my book be selected for people to read means so much to me. It makes me emotional because this is where I started. Coming back home I feel honored and blessed.”

Dau was known as a “Lost Boy,” one of tens of thousands of refugees displaced or orphaned by war in the Sudan. He came to the United States in 2001 and began taking classes at OCC along with approximately 80 refugees. He would earn a degree in 2005 and today is president of the John Dau Foundation which provides healthcare and nutrition programs to the citizens of South Sudan. He is one of OCC’s distinguished Alumni Faces honorees and in 2014 he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the American Association of Community Colleges.

Dau participated in a refugee panel discussion on campus.

Dau returned to the OCC campus in mid-October to participate in a series of events which gave students and community members the opportunity to speak with him. Events included Dinka Storytelling, a lecture in Storer Auditorium and a refugee panel discussion in which he was joined by six OCC students who were also refugees. They discussed their transition to life in the United States and the challenges associated with living so far from home. They answered many questions from those in attendance including if the United States felt like home yet, what they missed most about where they came from and what one thing they would like to take from America to their home country. Answers ran the gamut from pizza to open mindedness to the way people here want to help those in need.

Dau’s opportunity to return to campus and spend time with students was everything he hoped it would be and strengthened his bond with OCC. “This school isn’t only a place to learn. It’s a place where lost pride is redeemed and passion is grown. OCC incubated me without me knowing where I was going. OCC had the faith to allow me to come to school here and grow and now look at me coming back!”

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John Dau, ’05

 

  • Major at OCC: Humanities
  • Home country: South Sudan

John is a “Lost Boy,” one of tens of thousands of refugees displaced or orphaned by war in the Sudan. He came to the United States in 2001 and began taking classes at OCC along with approximately 80 refugees. “OCC was like a family to us. The teachers helped with school work and life lessons. It created a strong bond with me and all of the refugees.” Today he is President of the John Dau Foundation which provides healthcare and nutrition programs to the citizens of South Sudan. John is one of OCC’s distinguished Alumni Faces honorees. In 2014 he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the American Association of Community Colleges.

Please take a moment, visit our Alumni web site and tell us how OCC impacted your life.