From Turkmenistan to America: How I Found Langston Hughes

by Sam Tranum

The boy's hands shook slightly as he stood in front of the blackboard holding a sheet of white paper. A bead of sweat ran down his left temple. A fly buzzed around his head. He waved it away, took a deep breath, planted his feet wide on the worn wood-plank floor, and began to speak.

It was summer in Turkmenistan and the temperature was well over 100 degrees. A breeze blew desert dust into the room through the classroom's open windows. The two dozen or so men and women seated at the room's child-sized desks picked at plates of cookies and grapes as they listened to the boy r...

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