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After just 2 months, refugee from Congo thrives in U.S.

5:59 PM, Jan 20, 2011   |    comments
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"I was nervous because actually the people were different from my country," 12-year-old Urim said. "I came here as a refugee."

He grew up Congo and things were not good there for him and his family. Urim moved to Ethiopia for four years where he started learning English before moving to Aurora.

When he began seventh grade at East Middle School, teachers noticed right away there was a problem.

"The work that I was doing and the work that was given to me was not hard enough," Urim said.

Administrators pulled an unusual move by placing Urim in eighth grade right away.

Then he went to art class.

"His drawing was just amazing and I was like, 'Wow, this kid's got some really good talent here,'" Jennifer Knowles, the art teacher at East Middle School, said.

Knowles felt Urim had so much talent she entered him in the Scholastic Art and Writing contest with a drawing he made of President Abraham Lincoln.

"I know how to draw because I like to draw," Urim said.

Among 3,600 entries from kids around Colorado in grades seven-to-12, Urim took first place in the category of Middle School Drawing. Now, his work is headed to the national competition.

"I didn't expect that I would be the first," Urim said. "I can say I was happy because it's not bad news."

Not bad for a student who had never taken an art class before.

"No training, no lessons," Knowles said. "I've never seen a kid as talented as he is come through my doors before."

Not bad for a boy who just came to the United States two months ago.

"I deal with multiple, multiple kids that come in from a different country and it takes them two months to learn to approach the teacher," Knowles said.

In two months, Urim talked his way into moving from seventh to eighth grade. He won a statewide art contest. If he wins at the national level, his work will be on display in New York and he'll have a chance for a scholarship to an arts college.

What will the next two months bring?

"I'm not nervous," Urim said. "Everything is OK."

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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