Before she became a teacher in Colorado, she was a Sudanese refugee. Hear her story during Garfield County Library talks.
Nyibol Bior was a young girl when she was sent to live with her grandmother as her home country of Sudan was being torn apart by civil war.
Her mother had four small children at the time and couldn’t take care of them all. But the turmoil in Nyibol’s young life was only just beginning, as she and her extended family were forced to leave their home when she was 8.
They walked hundreds of miles from village to village before ending up in an Ethiopian refugee camp in the early 1990s.
New leadership there ultimately sent them back to their home country, despite the dangers that existed. Not only was there a war between the north and what eventually became South Sudan in 2011, there were warring tribal factions within Bior’s native south.
Eventually, her family sought and was cleared for asylum in the United States in 1995. Bior learned English and eventually became a language arts and physical education teacher.
Now 37, she teaches in the small town of Dolores in southwest Colorado, and has spent recent summers teaching summer school at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale.
Bior shares her story at 6 p.m. tonight at the Carbondale Branch Library, and again at 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Silt Library. The library presentations are in conjunction with Colorado Mountain College’s Common Reader program.
In her talk, “Walking to Freedom,” Bior tells of her experiences during and after the war in Sudan that stretched from 1983, when she was barely a year old, until 2005.
“It’s intended to be motivational and educational … and eye-opening,” Bior said.
She’ll also talk about her experience with the vetting process in Texas to be granted asylum. And, though her experience was very different from today’s asylum seekers at the southern border of the U.S., she says it’s something she can relate to.
“I can certainly empathize with children being taken away from their families,” she said. “It happened to me, but my story is different.
“I was old enough to go to school when I had to leave my mother, and I know how devastating that was for me as a little girl,” Bior said.
During the unrest in Sudan, there were literally millions of people crossing various borders into nearby African countries. Roughly 2 million people died during that time, and over 4 million people were displaced.
Still today, people continue to leave as even the new independent South Sudan government has its disagreements, she said.
Bior came to the U.S. when she was 13, only speaking Swahili and Dinka, attending public schools there, learning English, and beginning her college education at Texas A&M International University.
“I persevered, and I worked hard,” she said.
Bior went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in teaching, focusing on culturally and linguistically diverse education, at the University Colorado–Denver, and ultimately returned to Colorado to teach.
She’s also now beginning to share her story through a series of books, beginning with a children’s book titled “My Beautiful Colors.” She is currently self-funding to have that book published, and has a GoFundMe page to help raise the money.
She also has begun working on her autobiography, which she said will be an extension of the children’s book, but focusing on her teen and young adult years.
Bior returned to South Sudan in 2013 to teach, and also to visit her elderly grandfather, Kuek, who she hadn’t seen since she was a child. He died two days after her return to the U.S.
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Basalt High School students view the Roaring Fork Valley and learn about the watershed from EcoFlight’s educational plane trips.