Nov. 11, 2010
Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
ATLANTA - Georgia State University students will have another opportunity to be inspired by the freshman book that bonded them this summer, when Luma Mufleh speaks on campus at 3 p.m. Monday (Nov. 15) at the Rialto Center for the Arts.
Mufleh is the inspirational coach and founder of the soccer team called the Fugees, which is featured in the university's book selection for the inaugural First-Year Reading Program, "Outcasts United." The players on the team come from 18 war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Somalia.
Mufleh's discussion, themed "Changing the World One Game at a Time," will include how she became involved with the Fugees, the plight of the children she helps and what they teach her in return. She emphasizes what can be done to change the life of one child, one family at a time.
"I believe students will enjoy hearing from Coach Luma herself and getting a first hand account of the challenges and rewards of working with this phenomenal group of students," said Nia Haydel, academic professional for freshman learning communities in Enrollment Services. "I believe that she will be an inspiring speaker and will demonstrate to our students how they can accomplish seemingly impossible things when they have passion and commitment to get the job completed."
An immigrant of Jordan, Mufleh moved to Atlanta a year and a half after graduating from Smith College in 1997. She started the soccer team in 2004 after she noticed a group of boys playing soccer in the street without the most basic equipment while driving through Clarkston, Ga.
In addition to the challenges faced by every preteen on teenager, Mufleh has helped the players on this team deal with post-traumatic stress issues, language barriers, cultural disconnects and devastating poverty. She has also made a commitment to provide the players strict discipline, tutoring, and a sense of community for them and their families.
In 2006, Mufleh helped found an organization to help refugee families transition to life in the U.S. by providing tutoring, housing assistance, and health and educational programming. She also founded Fresh Start, a cleaning service that employs immigrants and refugees and helps then learn English, computer and other skills. Mufleh gave ownership of Fresh Start to her employees in 2007.
Mufleh's appearance is one of several events at Georgia State this fall related to the book "Outcasts United." The book has been incorporated into freshman classes, such as 1101 English Composition and GSU 1010 New Student Orientation. The book's author, New York Times reporter Warren St. John, spoke at GSU's Freshman Convocation in September.
"The story of the Fugees is inspiring. It chronicles the life journey of a group of children who would be unlikely comrades and helps us to understand the complexities of living in a new environment and the role each of us has in making these sorts of transitions easier for our neighbors," Haydel said.
This event, which is free and open to the campus community, is a collaboration between the Office of Undergraduate Studies, the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Programs, Middle East Institute, Intercultural Relations, International Student and Scholar Services, and International Student Association Council. For more information, call 404-413-2052.