Rye Barcott, author of the 2012 Common Reading selection, It Happened on the Way to War, will give the keynote address at the Wolfpack Welcome Week Convocation on Monday, August 13. Other campus events featuring the author are being planned; watch the Bulletin for more information in coming weeks.
In 2000, Barcott spent part of the summer living in 10-by-10-foot shacks in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He was a 20-year-old college student heading into the Marines, and he sought to better understand ethnic violence—something he would likely face in uniform. Barcott learned Swahili and listened to young people talk about how they survived amidst poverty he had never imagined existed. He stumbled into friendship with a widowed nurse, Tabitha Atieno Festo, and a tough community organizer, Salim Mohamed.
It Happened on the Way to War is the gripping story of this unlikely trio’s journey to build a nongovernmental organization in a volatile place and help develop a new generation of leaders from within. Their organization, Carolina for Kibera (CFK), is now a pioneer of the movement called participatory development, drawing recognition from Time magazine as a “Hero of Global Health” and interest from Melinda Gates, President Obama and other dignitaries.
Barcott served in the Marine Corps for five years in Iraq, Bosnia and the Horn of Africa. He then earned master’s degrees in business and public administration from Harvard University, where he was a Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Fellow. A World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, he lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter and works at Duke Energy. It Happened on the Way to War, published by Bloomsbury, is his first book.