Ishmael Beah, former boy soldier in Sierra Leone

New York Times best-selling author Ishmael Beah will discuss his life as a “boy soldier” in Sierra Leone as part of the Hanover College Enrichment Series.

Beah will speak Friday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. in Fitzgibbon Recital Hall, Lynn Center for Fine Arts.

Beginning at the age of 12, Beah was forced to fight for the Sierra Leone army against rebels during the nation’s civil war. Held hostage by brain-washing, drug addictions and pressures of the army, he fought for nearly three years before gaining refuge through UNICEF in 1996.

That same year, while living with a family member and going to school in Freetown, Beah was invited to speak at the United Nations. Within the following year, however, the city was besieged after the Revolutionary United Front and government army, once adversaries, joined forces.

Through the help of UNICEF, Beah fled to New York City and eventually lived with a foster family. He attended the United Nations International School and later earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oberlin College.

In 2007, he released "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier," which provides a chilling glimpse into war through the eyes of a child and his struggle to regain his humanity and civility. The work, now published in more than 40 languages, was named by Time magazine as one of the year’s top-10 non-fiction books. Beah was also nominated that year for a Quill Award in the best debut author category.

In 2014, Beah pinned his first novel, "Radiance of Tomorrow, A Novel." The book probes post-war life in Sierra Leone, following the plight of two friends who return to their ravaged hometown following the civil war.

The event will also feature a presentation by Hanover sophomore Samuel Pyle, who escaped an orphanage in Sierra Leone and, after a four-year process, was ultimately adopted by a Louisville, Ky., family along with his two siblings.

Since coming to campus, Pyle has been a member of the College’s track and field team and also started Looking Back and Moving Forward, a student organization to aid children in Sierra Leone.

General admission tickets are now available. Seats cost just $15 each for adults, while tickets for children high-school age and younger (18-) are free.

The Hanover Enrichment Series is presented by Tricia and Will Hagenah, with additional support from the McManaman Trust, German American Bank and the Indiana Arts Commission.