Saint Cyr’s Long Run

15 Apr
dimanche

Saint Cyr trains for the Boston Marathon. (WBZ-TV.)

On Palm Sunday at Assumption College, conscientious and creative students from Cinzia Pica-Smith’s Principles of Case Management class led scores of folks on a Refugee Walk around campus. At each stop, the students shared another part of the fictional narrative they’d carefully composed to reflect an African refugee’s journey from genocide through the bureaucratic hoops of the immigration process to a new life in the United States. The story and the images were both moving and inspiring.

The next day, in a classroom directly above one of the stops, Saint Cyr Dimanche visited my Life Stories class to discuss his own Refugee Walk – a roughly 2,000-mile journey on foot from war-torn Central African Republic to Cameroon, during which he and boys he fell in with had to avoid being killed by predators, animal and human.

Seeing the awe on our faces, Saint Cyr laughed.

“Ahh, it wasn’t that hard!”

Maybe that attitude is why, one week before he was set to run the Boston Marathon – and a day after he was interviewed for a story by WBZ in Boston – Saint Cyr seemed easy and relaxed as he spoke. He even assured us that compared to the slopes he trained on in the rugged terrain of Worcester, Heartbreak Hill isn’t that difficult.

Of course, Heartbreak Hill is considerably harder when you’ve run more than 20 miles to get there – just as Saint Cyr’s story points to a world of suffering he must have witnessed, and stoically overcome, to flee his home, avoid capture, reach Cameroon, and survive a construction job that put him in a hospital – where an American couple found him and advocated for him, helping push him through the process to have him adopted by Bob and Anne Bureau in Massachusetts. The Bureaus had 15 minutes to make a decision to accept Saint Cyr – who was closing in on his 18th birthday, which would have ended his eligibility in the refugee minors program – and they agreed even though they’d been told they spoke no common language. Thanks to the kindness of the Bureaus and agencies such as African Community Education – and most of all his courage and determination – Saint Cyr made up for missing most of his schooling while fleeing for his life; he’s now finishing his sophomore year at Brandeis University, studying international relations with an eye toward helping those in his homeland.

So one can hardly question Saint Cyr if he seems confident on the verge of Monday’s 26-mile, 200-yard run. After all, he’s seen longer.

 

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