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Tagwa Badredine Al-Hum, Sudan’s Smartest Girl

"I want to be a big journalist. Anywhere…I want to go to France…I want to go to learn..."

On September 3, 2011, Tagwa Badredine Al-Hum’s family was celebrating a holiday near their hometown of Damazin, the capital of Blue Nile state in Sudan when airstrikes began to pound the city. The family packed their few belongings—along with 13 cows and goats—and fled to a refugee camp across the border in Ethiopia.

Eventually, the relatives ended up in Gendrassa, a camp in the Maban County of South Sudan. Tagwa, now 16, recently graduated from the camp’s primary school. Back in Damazin, as the daughter of a teacher and a businessman, Tagwa excelled in school—she earned the highest marks in the entire country on South Sudan’s most recent set of standardized tests. But in Gendrassa, she can no longer study English because she has surpassed the level taught at the camps. And because of her years being shuttled between refugee camps in Ethiopia and South Sudan, she’s fallen behind on the national curriculum. To catch up, she must go to school for 15 hours a day, rising before 6 a.m. and getting home after midnight…

Rebecca Rattner reports from South Sudan, on The Daily Beast.

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