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Out of the Classroom, Into the Parliament

Teacher Joseph Lekuton has high standards for his middle school social studies students. His "infamous test on the whole world," as one student puts it, requires that the teenagers locate and identify nearly every country and capital on the globe. That knowledge should come in handy for them now that Lekuton will be living on the other side of the world: He recently won a seat in the parliament of his native Kenya. After a decade at the McLean, Virginia, Langley School, Lekuton declared his candidacy last April in a special election to replace several members of the Kenyan parliament who died in a plane crash. His platform focused on educational and economic development. In July, voters in central Kenya chose him as their representative. The burgeoning political career was a natural step for Lekuton, who had spent his summers facilitating exchange trips and fundraising efforts that connected families in Virginia and Kenya. He was born into the nomadic Masai tribe and came to the United States on a college scholarship—but not without help from his countrymen, who sold livestock to pay for his plane ticket. At a final visit with his former students this week, Lekuton reminded them to keep a global mindset: "It's never about yourself. It has to be 'What can you do for someone else?' That is how you keep your dream alive."

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