(UNION, NJ) -- The Kean University Human Rights Institute welcomed internationally acclaimed human rights activist and bestselling author John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, to its benefit screening of The Good Lie on Wednesday, October 8. The exclusive screening at Kean's state-of-the-art STEM Auditorium attracted some three hundred guests and generated over $5,000, with eighty percent of every dollar raised to benefit the Enough Project's work for peace in Sudan and South Sudan, and the remaining twenty percent to benefit the Human Rights Institute.
"The Good Lie is an extraordinary fictionalized account of the saga of the 'Lost Boys' of Sudan," stated Mr. Prendergast, who briefly appears in the film as a teacher working with refugee youth preparing for resettlement, and also contributed to the movie's storyline. "It took ten years to get The Good Lie to move from inside the head of my late friend, [executive producer] Bobby Newmyer, who didn't live to actually see his dream come true with this movie, before it finally made it to the screen, but it was well worth the wait."
"We created the Human Rights Institute at Kean to give our students, our faculty and the communities we serve an opportunity to be part of the global effort to identify solutions to human rights violations," stated Dr. Dawood Farahi, President of Kean University. "Our relationship with John Prendergast, and his willingness to be an integral part of Kean's efforts, brings us another step forward in this mission."
Kean's four-star event concluded with an interactive discussion with the audience led by Mr. Prendergast and surprise guest former Sudanese refugee Nathaniel Chol Nyok, Founder and President of Ambassadors for Change.
Mr. Prendergast expressed the hope that Kean's screening would raise awareness of the conflicts in Africa, and the impact on human lives, as well as sensitize audience members to people around them in their own community who have come from other countries and have their own stories.
"When a film can capture the essence of an issue and then build a memorable story around that issue, it's really hard not to be enriched by such an experience," Mr. Prendergast continued. "I believe that The Good Lie is one of those game-changers for those of us that have the honor to be able to see it."
Mr. Prendergast, who previously served as Kean's keynote speaker for #ENOUGH! – Affecting Change from the Frontlines to Your Newsfeed, was named Kean University's Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow earlier this year. He is the Founding Director of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity affiliated with the Center for American Progress, as well as the author or co-author of ten books, including Not On Our Watch with Don Cheadle, a New York Times bestseller and NAACP non-fiction book of the year, and The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes.
Special guest Mr. Nyok, a former "Lost Boy" of Sudan, was separated from his parents and siblings during the second Sudanese Civil War when he was eight years old. Having lived as a refugee for 14 years, Nyok came to the United States in 2001. In 2009, 22 years after Nyok was separated from his family, he was reunited with his family in Sudan. Nyok possesses his B.A. in International Affairs with a concentration in Diplomacy and International Service from Kennesaw State University and is currently pursuing his M.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University.
"When we were hopeless, we thought education was going to be our father and mother," said Mr. Nyok, who characterized education as not only a source of inspiration for those experiencing challenges, but also the path to all opportunity. "I used to call it the common denominator because you need it to do anything."
Mr. Prendergast, a strong proponent of education himself with a longstanding relationship to the University, has been in residence at Kean throughout the week of October 6, attending classes and meeting with student leaders.
Over the course of five days, he will meet with students writers interested in co-authoring an op-ed, participate in classes at the School of Environmental & Sustainability Sciences, serve as a mock client for a Promotional Design class, deliver a presentation on social media's ability to affect social policy, and assist the Human Rights Institute in the launch of a human rights book club.