Mary Otto, Portland, 2009

Courtesy of Jan Pieter Van Voorst Van Beest, an individual partner

Mary Otto, Portland, 2009

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“Girls never go to school,” Mary Otto’s uncle scolded her when she was young. Yet in May 2008, Otto graduated from the University of Southern Maine. During the intervening years, she did what she was supposed to as an Acholi woman of Southern Sudan—raised a family—and much more.

In the 1990s, Sudan’s civil war forced Otto to call on a different kind of intelligence that she possessed in great quantity: the quick-witted resourcefulness needed to live on the run from bullets.

Today she is a role model for students who, like her, experienced trauma.She tells them, “If I can do it at forty, you can do it!”

Mary Otto immigrated to Maine from Sudan and as of 2017 is a language facilitator for Portland public schools.

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About This Item

  • Title: Mary Otto, Portland, 2009
  • Creator: Van Voorst Van Beest, Jan Pieter
  • Creation Date: 2009
  • Subject Date: 2017
  • Town: Portland
  • County: Cumberland
  • State: ME
  • Media: Digital
  • Object Type: Image

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