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This is a story of David and Goliath proportions, how an American hedge fund manager created a unique school in Somaliland whose students, against all odds, have come to achieve success beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
Jonathan Starr is not your traditional do-gooder, and in 2009, when he decided to found Abaarso, a secondary school in Somaliland, the choice seemed crazy to even his closest friends. Why, they wondered, would he turn down a life of relative luxury to relocate to an armed compound in a breakaway region of the world's number one failed state? To achieve his mission, Starr would have to overcome profound cultural differences, broken promises, and threats to his safety and that of his staff. It Takes a School is the story of how an abstract vision became a transformative reality, as Starr set out to build a school in a place forgotten by the world. It is the story of a skeptical and clan-based society learning to give way to trust. And it is the story of the students themselves, including a boy from a family of nomads who took off on his own in search of an education and a girl who waged a hunger strike in order to convince her strict parents to send her to Abaarso.
Abaarso has placed 40 graduates and counting in American universities, from Harvard to MIT, and sends Somaliland a clear message: its children can compete with anyone in the world. Now the initial question Starr was asked demands another: "If such a success can happen in an unrecognized breakaway region of Somalia, can it not happen anywhere?"
Highly recommended for anyone interested in educational issues, and especially the in the education of an otherwise forgotten group of students. It sounds like this school is doing truly remarkable work.
Really interesting and inspirational story! It's not often you hear about finance people doing good things to change the world... with their own money!
Couldn't put this one down -- listened to it all in one day. Starr has written an honest and heart-warming tale about the trials and tribulations he had to endure to start a boarding school in far-flung Somaliland. The author does a great job describing his motivations, the challenges he faced, and the remarkable children who would go on to do great things because his Abaarso School existed and persisted against all odds. I found it a very well-paced book that is interesting throughout, plus the narration is great. The narrator even did a pretty great job of getting all the af-Soomaali pronunciations correct. Best of luck to all of Abaarso's kids: the future of Somaliland is in great hands.