Emmanuel Jal, a former South Sudanese child soldier, has made it his life’s mission to travel as far across the globe as he can, advocating for peace. Jal gave a free concert here on Tuesday evening, March 25, 2014, as part of a Forum on Global Engagement, and during the day he entertained nearly 1,000 students from Montgomery County with a high-energy and thought-provoking performance.

He performed several songs, invited a handful of students and their teachers onto the stage to help him sing and dance, and  spoke to the students about his life story, including his time as a child soldier and his three-month trek to safety, during which he and his companions were forced to seriously consider cannibalism in order to survive. He also spoke of some happy times, too–times that make him laugh to this day. One of his stories involved a particularly curious chicken.

“Peace is justice, equality, and freedom for all… Peace is when conflict is managed in a mature manner and violence is prevented,” Jal said.

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