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NPR - Awesome Summer Break: UCLA Student Joins Libyan Rebels


Dan T.

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What did YOU do on YOUR summer break?

NPR- by Eyder Peralta

Chris Jeon, 21, doesn't really fit in among the rebels. Reporters found the American kid in the middle of the Libyan desert, wearing a basketball jersey and converse sneakers. One of the rebels handed him an AK-47 and after toying with the safety, Jeon fired a couple of rounds in the air. Jeon, a math major at the University of California, Los Angeles, doesn't speak Arabic and he also knows little of warfare.

But he decided he would spend his summer vacation fighting with the rebels. He bought a one-way ticket (in case he got captured, he didn't want to lose another $800) to Cairo, then worked his way into Libya.

Both The Christian Science Monitor and the Arab Emirates' The National talked to Jeon on the front lines.

He told the reporters he thought it would be "cool" to join "one of the only real revolutions" in the world.

"I just go and see what happens," Jeon told the Monitor. "At spring break I told my friends a 'sick' vacation would be to come here and fight with the rebels."

Jeon doesn't seem to have plan for what's to come, The Monitor reports. In fact, he wasn't even sure of the date when the reporter talked to him, but he seemed to be having a blast:

At the rebel checkpoint about 80 miles from Sirte, he held a Russian-made shotgun the rebels had given him, appearing to be unfamiliar with it. Then a rebel handed him an AK-47, and he awkwardly fired several rounds into the air. The fighters cheered and laughed before quickly taking the gun back.

The boisterous rebel fighters, clearly enjoying this foreigner who had joined their ranks, shouted competing offers for him to join their respective brigades. Jeon needed translation to understand what they were asking. He communicates with sign language, and broken Italian.

He said the rebels had bestowed upon him an honorary Libyan name: Ahmed El Maghrabi Saidi Barga. As he said it, the rebels roared in approval.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/09/01/140119655/on-his-summer-break-california-college-kid-joins-libyan-rebels?ft=1&f=1001

His plan is to head back to California the day before school starts at the end of September.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0901/American-college-kid-joins-Libya-rebels-for-vacation

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One of the rebels handed him an AK-47 and after toying with the safety, Jeon fired a couple of rounds in the air. Jeon, a math major at the University of California, Los Angeles, doesn't speak Arabic and he also knows little of warfare.

What a loser to go into a foreign country without even knowing the language. Not like anything serious is happening over there...

His parents do not know he is here.

Bonus!

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This part made me chuckle: "At the rebel checkpoint about 80 miles from Sirte, he held a Russian-made shotgun the rebels had given him, appearing to be unfamiliar with it. Then a rebel handed him an AK-47, and he awkwardly fired several rounds into the air. The fighters cheered and laughed before quickly taking the gun back."

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Apparently he's on his way back to Benghazi from the latest reports I've seen.

http://twitter.com/#!/evanchill

Our team in east Libya said rebels fed up with Chris Jeon, US kid who tried to join, told him 2 go, last seen on pick-up going 2 Benghazi. 9 hours ago

In my opinion the guy's a dumb ass. If he wanted to do some sightseeing or something he should have picked a different area than the front line.

If he wanted to help there's plenty to be done elsewhere in the country that won't get him or other's killed by his foolishness.

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This is a amazing story. He just up and flew to Egypt and illegally entered a nation in the middle of a massive civil war. Then he finds himself some rebels and tries to join up for the summer before school starts. Imagine what this would look like to you from the rebel perspective. This kid left behind security, friends, and family to show up in a war zone... for his summer break. I have to assume they thought him to be crazy.

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