progression and resiliency
His long dreads swayed in response to his movements. We sat down at the table in a small room just off of the main warehouse space, which houses his newest business venture.
Moses Tut was born in South Sudan to parents fleeing the civil war. Specifically, his birthplace was a boat crossing a river. They were in the process of leaving. He spent the first six years of his life in refugee camps with his parents and siblings. Then, in 1999, they received word from the UN Human Commission for Refugees. The United States was to be their new home.
Now 24 years old, Moses has been involved in a great deal of non-profit work, starting one of his own and sitting on the boards of a few others. He also owns a clothing design company and is currently working with his brother in beginning a new business.
Our conversation spanned a number of topics. Here are the core ideas and values, from Moses’ perspective:
Progress, ultimately, is improving the life of his family and ensuring their longevity. It’s preserving his cultural heritage. Here, the ideas of progress and preservation merge. And it’s revering the community because it’s the community that creates you.
Giving back to the community and his parents. Sacrifice isn’t so much giving up something, but giving it back. He says that at times, he feels guilt for the privileges he has because the hardships he’s experienced don’t compare with those of his parents. It’s a mindset of making the most of what one has. Having and acquiring more things doesn’t fill the void of what achievement fills.
Resiliency: The South Sudanese civil war brought hardship. Seeing his parent’s example of resilience instilled the same grit within him. Growing up in refugee camp solidified that grit. The average refugee spends over 20 years in a refugee camp and a vast number of them are separated from their families. Moses wasn’t separated from his family but, still, he received a first hand experiential education in resiliency.
Hope is needed in order to make it to tomorrow. Much of Moses’ work focuses on youth and instilling in them a profound sense of hope. We all know the importance of having others believe in us and the requisite hope that grows from that.
Education is the “fuel for progression.” It lifts people up and acts as a liberator. In the context of the South Sudanese civil war for example, where cultural propaganda is rampant, education provides the tools to cut through false messaging. The comparative situations are endless.
Moses hopes to eventually return to South Sudan to provide education programs to youth.
Education is a liberating force, particularly from this perspective. It’s interesting how from another perspective, education can be seen as an oppressor: learning about what you’re not interested in through a pre-set, one-size-fits-all method. In light of this, self-education is also of great significance.
Education helps us see the world from a different perspective and liberates us from the limitations of our own view. It informs a worldview that opposes whitewashing and stereotyping.
Failure is integral to the educational experience. Really, it’s nothing more than a learning opportunity.
Possessing a sense of self-love, knowing your self-worth and approaching the world with confidence will carry you far. Confidence is not the antithesis of knowing everything, but rather is the embrace of the unknown. Moses attributes his confidence to the resiliency he learned through his life experiences and to the teachings of his parents. His father was a pastor, a respected member of the community, and seeing him deliver messages to large congregations, provided him with a strong sense of confidence.
Giving back to the world and returning the gifts you’ve received is a beautiful way to think of sacrifice. Growing up, it was Moses’ mentors that encouraged and supported him. Feeling the need to give this back to others is what propels him now. Possessing knowledge and not sharing it is an act of disservice to others.
South Sudan is still home for him. Some day, he hopes to return, bringing back what he’s learned here, and sharing with his people there.
Social ties, family and community: A communal mindset versus and individual mindset. It’s a line Moses often finds himself walking. His cultural background speaks much more in regards to the communal mindset while life in America is marked more so by an individual mindset.
He says the difference is largely due to the prevalence of technological innovation here. Back to progress… Along with technological progress, has come a diminution in social ties. We’re more connected, while at the same time, less so.
His upbringing engrained within him the idea that the community was really just an extension of the family. Making decisions based on what was best for the community was the way of the world.
Trust: Perhaps a good hallmark of a healthy society is the degree to which it feels it can trust. To what extent do individuals trust each other? Going back to education, knowing more and having the tools with which we can extract nuance from the world, enables a greater capacity to trust.
Check out Moses’ current projects:
· Conscious Youth Solutions: a youth development nonprofit, which Moses founded.
· Vicious Legendary Movement: Moses' clothing line
· Running Tap: Minnesota's first & only taproom delivery service.