PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Beah’s Story

5563302I might have to reconsider my previous post about Carl Wilkins.

Wilkins told a group of PSU students last week that “you can’t always know what’s going to happen, but you always have a choice.” Last night, Ishmael Beah, author of  A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, told Penn State students and the larger State College community that he didn’t have a choice. Beah emphasized that when many children in Sierra Leone lost their families in the war, they found refuge at military bases that in turn recruited them to fight: “All of us are capable of losing our humanity, not just people in ‘those places.'”

Yet Beah denies that the children of Sierra Leone are a lost generation, or simply the product of war: “There was a Sierra Leone before the war, during the war, and after the war.” Beah recalls that he only felt lost when he was taken from his troop and sent to rehabilitation with UNICEF, or when he came to America and didn’t know how to order certain foods. He has a strong sense of his identity: “I think of myself as a Sierra Leonean with American tendencies.”

Narratives are a strong part of Beah’s Sierra Leonean identity. Beah closed his address to the crowd at Eisenhower Auditorium with a story from his childhood. He tells of a young man who goes to hunt a monkey, but just as the man aims to fire, the monkey speaks to him. If you shoot me, the monkey says, your mother will die. If you don’t shoot me, your father will die. Beah then told the audience that “There is no right answer, no easy way out. Once you lift the gun, there is a consequence for violence.”

My question: can we choose whether or not to lift the gun?

About the Author


Lisa is a sophomore majoring in History and Philosophy. She likes peach tea and new information.


More by Lisa

R.I.P. Penn State Dormitory Landlines

Last Spring, Penn State Director of Housing Conal Carr announced the decision to disconnect Penn State dormitory landlines beginning fall 2009. Although Penn State paid approximately $800,000 annually to maintain the landlines, Penn State Live reported that approximately 72% of students used their landlines less than 20 times in the 2007-2008 school year. Mr. Carr […]

Women’s Soccer Takes On Brazil

A Morning Stroll and a Shooting?


Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

The incident surrounding Marche’s death is “under investigation,” according to the Philadelphia police department.

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Penn State Hockey’s Evan Barratt, Aarne Talvitie Participate In World Junior Summer Showcase

Ally McHugh Wins 400 Medley National Championship

Student Life

Nike Releases New Penn State Sneakers

This year’s sneaker is available to purchase online for $109.99.

Penn State Parking Office Runs Into Student Permit Purchase Issues

Girirajan Lab Seeks To Bridge The Gap Between Fly And Human Genomes

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Fall Move-In Traffic & Construction Changes

When 40,000 students need to move back to State College over the course of four days or so, things are bound to get crazy.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend