An American Hero visits IH Benghazi

Matthew VanDyke, along with his friend Masoud Bwisir, visited the staff and students of International House Benghazi, an English language institute in Benghazi, the evening of June 25th, 2012.  This time last year Matthew was being held in solitary confinement in Libya’s notorious Abu Salim Prison.  After his release, Matthew stayed in Libya for awhile to find the friends that he had been separated from during his capture, and now has returned to Libya to help organize a charity to help the Libyan people.

Matthew kindly took time out of his busy schedule while in Libya to speak with a group of young English language students and teachers and discuss his experiences during the Libyan war as well as political developments in Libya and the future of the country.  Students asked many questions about democracy as well as more personal questions about Matthew and were very happy about the chance to speak with a man who had come from so far away to help their country.

This meeting was a wonderful chance for young Libyans to discuss formerly forbidden topics face to face with someone from a very different background and they loved it.  The discussion lasted over two hours, with both young men and young women participating.  All the students and staff enjoyed the meeting.  Even those few students, who had to join classes in the middle of the meeting, came back out of classrooms to hear Masoud when he began to sing.

The students were quite encouraged when Matthew told them that they should be involved in the political process of democracy rather than just leaving it to the older generation.  They also were very happy when Matthew complimented their English, by telling them it was so good that they were having a normal conversation.  Students signed letters of appreciation for both Matthew and Masoud and presented them at the end of the meeting.

We at International House Benghazi wish Matthew and Masoud well and thank them for their visit.  We hope that there will be more meetings like this in the future and that Libya will join the rest of the world as a peaceful democratic country.