Central High School’s Oliver Kwete Recently Selected from Refugee Youth Candidates Across the Country

Posted by Communications on 11/2/2017

Central High School’s Oliver Kwete was recently selected from refugee youth candidates across the country to be a speaker at the International Rescue committee’s (IRC) Rescue Dinner, November 2 in New York City.  Kwete, 19, is a junior, who came to the U.S. last fall with his family, including six other brothers and sisters.  Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he grew up in Zimbabwe where he lived for 13 years, much of those years in a refugee camp.  His family moved to the U.S. thanks to a re-settlement program that connected them with the local IRC branch.  Vital Ntibushemeye, a school liaison for the IRC nominated him for this event.

“I was not surprised.  I knew I would make it,” Kwete said.  “Vital was our case worker and helped us all enroll in school here.” 

The IRC was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein.  The organization offers emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution or natural disaster. The IRC is currently working in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities where it resettles refugees and helps them become self-sufficient.  The annual gala brings together luminaries from the corporate, philanthropic, diplomatic and media communities in support of the IRC’s humanitarian work.  This year, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will be honored, as well as actress Liv Ullmann.

Kwete and his mother are spending the week in New York, to participate in coaching and rehearsals, as well as a little sightseeing.  He says his speech is be about how he emigrated from the Congo to Zimbabwe to the U.S. and the difficulties his family encountered.

Kwete found a home at Central High early on, going out for the football team.  He was an instant success, after playing rugby for many years in Africa.  This year he was too old to play, but his twin brothers, Cosmos and Eloi, were standouts for the Bobcats. Kwete speaks seven languages, including his mother’s tribal tongue, Lingala, and his father’s, Kikuba, as well as Swahili.   He spent a year in ELL classes, but tested out, and now has his sights set on college, where he wants to study entrepreneurship.  He might be able to play rugby at Lindenwood College in Missouri, otherwise he would attend college locally.    He wants to   start his own online marketing business, and is already doing online work.