Seton Hill University is proud to present Benjamin Ajak, the first speaker in the Seton Hill University 2008- 2009 “A Portrait of Survival” Lynch Lecture Series. Ajak, one of the authors of “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan,” will speak about his experiences in the Sudan as a young boy, and the ongoing conflict in that country. Benjamin Ajak’s presentation will be held on Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. in Cecilian Hall on Seton Hill’s Greensburg, Pa. campus. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased by calling 724-830-4626 or visiting NOTE: Free tickets for all SHU students, faculty, staff and Sisters of Charity are available in the Student Activities Office between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday thru Friday. You must have a ticket for admittance to the lecture. Parking and a free shuttle will be available at the Robert Bell Garage in downtown Greensburg, Pa. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Benjamin Ajak will be available to speak informally with Seton Hill students and faculty on October 2 in the Greensburg Room from 3 - 4:30 p.m. All Seton Hill students and faculty members are welcome to attend.

Benjamin Ajak was five years old when his village in Southern Sudan was attacked by troops from his own government. He witnessed the death of his parents and the destruction of his village. To escape slavery, death, or induction into the northern army, he fled naked and alone into the night. Walking by day and sleeping in trees at night, it was several days before he found his cousins, Benson, seven years old, and Lino, five. Together the three young boys joined the exodus of thousands of others and fled a thousand miles across Africa’s largest country. They became known to the world as The Lost Boys. On September 11, 2001 Ajak came to America. From his plane window he took his first look at his new home - New York City wreathed in smoke as the Twin Towers burned. Ajak rejoined his cousins, Benson and Alephonsion Deng, in the U.S., and the three Lost Boys wrote their memoir, “They Poured Fire On Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan.” Ajak now lives in San Diego and travels the country sharing the story of his extraordinary – and inspiring – life, while speaking out about the genocide still going on in his country.

Judy Bernstein, who co-authored They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, will accompany Benjamin to Seton Hill. Bernstein will share her experiences as a mentor to Benjamin and his cousins after they arrived in the United States, and her ongoing efforts to support them as they work to raise awareness of the ongoing war in the Sudan.

This year at Seton Hill 570 people read “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky,” and shared their reactions to the book in 63 separate book discussions held simultaneously on Seton Hill’s campus on September 4, 2008. This campus-wide book discussion event occurred as a part of Seton Hill’s Summer Reading Project. Every summer, incoming Seton Hill first year and transfer students receive a complimentary copy of a novel or nonfiction work, chosen by Seton Hill’s Summer Reading Committee on the caliber of its writing, relevance to contemporary issues, and the interest of the community in its topic. The book is also provided to Seton Hill faculty, staff and upperclassmen who wish to take part in a group book discussion and presentation that takes place after the Welcoming Liturgy at the beginning of every academic year.

The 2008 - 2009 Seton Hill University Lynch Lecture Series, “A Portrait of Survival,” will also feature a lecture by Iranian professor Azar Nafisi. Nafisi is the best selling author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” a portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran seen through the eyes of one university professor and her students. Nafisi’s lecture will be held on Thursday, March 5, 2009. Additionally, Seton Hill is collaborating with the Notre Dame Alumni Club to present a free, public lecture through the prestigious Notre Dame Hesburgh Lecture Series on April 16, 2009. Sponsors for Seton Hill’s “A Portrait of Survival” Lecture Series include DUQ 90.5 FM, Laurel Valley Graphics, Sheetz, Aramark, and Building Systems, Inc.

The Seton Hill University Lynch Lecture Series offers highly contemporary, sometimes humorous, and often transforming perspectives to its audiences by featuring well-known speakers and performers such as Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Dave Barry, news anchor Lesley Stahl, and award-winning historian David McCullough. Thomas Lynch established the Lecture Series 46 years ago for the purpose of providing this enriching lecture opportunity to our community.