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Graduation has graduates reflecting on their pasts, from fleeing a civil war to graduating

George Siliman, from Sudan, graduated from GISH, Saturday. (NTV News)

It’s graduation weekend across the nation and for one graduate from Grand Island Senior High, getting his diploma had him reflecting on the life he left back in Africa.

"It affected us a lot, but we just worked through it," Nelson Siliman, from Sudan, said.

What he was 's referring to was the civil war that tore apart his home country. Nelson and his family began fleeing from Southern Sudan 14 years ago, after the country had its second civil war.

Saturday, despite their family's past, Nelson’s younger brother, George, graduated from Grand Island Senior High. The brothers said their mom made a sacrifice when they came to the U.S., and for George, walking across the stage allowed him to show his gratitude.

"It was an amazing feeling because my mom's been pushing me since I was a little kid and telling me to keep going, and I'm happy that I got to make her proud today," he said.

George, who is a three-time athlete in track, football and basketball, graduated in the top 15 percent of his class.

His mom, Esterina Bokobo, said they sacrificed everything for him to have the best education and he wouldn't have had this same opportunity in Sudan.

"To go to school in Sudan, you have to pay money to go to school. But here, I'm happy because kids go to school, you don't pay money, everything is free," Bokobo said.

George’s cousin, Ganes Kufutn, said because of the impoverished state Sudan is in, it's rare for children back home to even accomplish an elementary education, let alone obtain a diploma.

"In Africa we pay to get to it. In Africa, can't even get to high school. And some kids drop out in first grade, second grade, third grade. When we're here we get everything. That's a good opportunity for us," Kufutn said.

As for George, he achieved a full ride scholarship to attend the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He'll attend in the fall, where he will be studying either business or pharmacy.

The second civil war in Sudan began in 1983, and did not end until 2005.

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