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100 high school students given opportunity to meet inspiring author

On a recent January evening, author Ishmael Beah read from his recent book, The Radiance of Tomorrow, to a full house at Santa Cruz High School. The event was hosted by Bookshop Santa Cruz and through a partnership with the Santa Cruz Education Foundation, 100 seats were made available to students from Costanoa, Santa Cruz, Harbor and Soquel High Schools.

Beah conveyed hope and gravity as a survivor of the horrific violence he witnessed and endured as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. How he carried hope with him then and how he leads his life today resonated with the students in the room.

“When he spoke of replacing the number of bad memories with good…that stuck out to me because I am at a stage in my life when I have already realized that it is completely true and I do my best to make good memories while I can.”
– Connor
Host Wallace Baine with Beah - Bookshop Santa Cruz

Host Wallace Baine with Beah – Bookshop Santa Cruz

“Ishmael Beah’s presentation was simply amazing.  One thing that I will never forget about his presentation is the way he explained war to us.  He said that in the field, people kill another person to live another day, not knowing that there is a person behind the gun’s story.  That has truly changed my perspective on war, and for that I would like to thank him.”
– Jasmin

Costanoa Librarian Jolene Kemos agrees that Beah had a profound impact on her students, “The opportunity provided by Bookshop Santa Cruz and SCEF was invaluable to our school community in ways immediate and longterm.  Beah, his tragic experience, and his ability to work through the legacy of what could have been, to a story of redemption and success, is one that resonated deeply with our students and staff members.  Those who attended were witness to our community’s ability to embrace the journey and to forgive.” She adds, “this message of hope is essential to students as a reminder that mistakes do not define them and that their potential is limitless.  Beah’s books have been flying off the library and classroom shelves.  His message is spreading through our school in voice and in print.”

Beah was also taken with the warmth of his reception. He posted this image of the audience to Twitter from the stage:

- @IshmaelBeah