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News Release

July 27, 2007

Refugees learn to tell their stories at Smith College

With support from Nike, the soccer team of refugees, called the Fugees, will attend literacy camp at the college.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College alumna Luma Mufleh ’97, a soccer coach in Georgia whose work with a team of refugees from war-torn countries recently captured the nation’s attention, will bring the players to her alma mater for a summer literacy camp in August.

The 32-year-old coach of the team, called the Fugees, gained recognition when she was profiled in a front page New York Times article on Jan. 20. Until then, Mufleh’s work to improve her players’ lives had been a quiet struggle in a town that objected to even providing fields for team practices.

Since then, the story of Mufleh and the players whose lives she has impacted, continues to be covered in the national media. However, the boys’ struggles to learn to read and write – ultimately to narrate their own stories – continue.

With the assistance of Nike, now the team’s sponsor, Mufleh will bring 40 members of her team to Smith in Northampton, Mass., Aug. 1-8, to improve their literacy. The teenagers will stay in a residence hall on campus and attend the camp, called “Sharing Life Stories.”

“After learning about Luma's work with the Fugees, it made perfect sense to combine Smith's teaching and sport resources with the Fugees’ need for fast-track education,” said Lynn Oberbillig, Smith College director of athletics. “We are very proud that our alumna has made it her life's work addressing the social injustices that the Fugees face daily, and we want to support her work.” 

At the end of the camp, the teammates, who come from countries such as Somalia, Burundi and Liberia, will share with each other the three-minute digital clips that provide a glimpse into their lives.


Who: Forty members of the Fugees, a boys’ soccer team made up of players ages 12 to 16 from war-torn countries around the world, founded and coached by Smith alumna Luma Mufleh ’97.

What: Summer literacy camp, called “Sharing Life Stories,” that will focus on each player telling his story. The camp will begin with a storytelling workshop in which each boy will write and create a three-minute digital clip about an exciting moment in his life.

Where: Smith College campus, Northampton, Mass.

When: Wednesday, Aug. 1, through Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007

Why: To improve the literacy of many of the athletes who, as refugees in a new country, struggle to learn the English language and to give them the experience of being on a college campus.

How: With the sponsorship of Nike.

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. By linking the power of the liberal arts to excellence in research and scholarship, Smith is developing leaders for society’s challenges.  Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country, enrolling 2,800 students from nearly every state and 61 other countries.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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