of Beetles and Angels

by Mawi Asgedom







Mawi Asgedom



   Mawi Asgedom 







About the Book



This memoir chronicles the author’s childhood journey from Ethiopia to Sudan and on to Wheaton, Illinois, concluding with his graduation from Harvard University in 1999. This is an inspiring story of the difficulties and joys his family experienced as they overcame tragedy and financial hardships to realize the American dream.


About the Author


Mawi Asgedom was born in Ethiopia. As a child, he lived for three years in a Sudanese refugee camp before resettling in the United States with his family. His memoir, Of Beetles and Angels, tells the story of his journey from a refugee camp to college. Mawi Asgedom delivered the commencement address at his graduation from Harvard University in 1999. Named one of the 40 most inspiring African-Americans by Essence magazine, Mawi Asgedom also has appeared on the 



Global Communities: Chicagoland's Recent Immigrants and Refugees

The grand finale of One Book, One Batavia 2004. Peter Alter, Curator at the Chicago Historical Society, talked about post-1945 immigration to the Chicago area in this presentation. Mawi Asgedom, an Ethiopian-Eritrean refugee who told his family's story in Of Beetles and Angels, arrived in Wheaton in 1983. Dr. Alter provided a context for this story by discussing the Chicago Historical Society's documentation of recent refugees and immigrants to the Chicago area.


Author Presentations

Mawi Asgedom spoke at the Batavia Public Library, March 11, 2004, as the featured speaker at two presentations: Books Between Bites at 12 noon and a 7 p.m. presentation. He also appeared at a “Meet the Author” event for children at 4:30 p.m.


Ellis Island Documentary

This documentary features firsthand accounts of people who came through Ellis Island, as well as rare photographs and films that tell the story of America’s famous gateway.


Start Climbing Your Family Tree

Learning where our ancestors lived and what we can do to make them come alive is the part of history that is fun for everyone. How does one find a great-grandfather who’s been gone a long while? Marilyn Robinson, writer and family researcher, explained the types of information available and where to look for it. Marilyn has been doing family research for over thirty years. She has taught a number of workshops and helps people who search at the Gustafson Research Center and on the Batavia Historical Society’s web site.


Preserving Family Treasures

Celebrating the idea of “coming to America” and the American dream are key ideas in Of Beetles and Angels. This workshop taught tips for preserving one’s own family history. Participants learned how to preserve photographs, paper documents, and textile artifacts for future generations. Staff members from the Batavia Depot Museum also provided information on archival materials and where to purchase them. They demonstrated the process of encapsulation, which is a preservation technique that is approved by the Library of Congress. Participants were invited to bring a small paper document from home.


Book DiscussionOf Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom


Book Beat

Of Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom

Book discussion and activities for students in grades 4–8


Photo Exhibit

Batavians were invited to bring photographs of their immigrant ancestors to display on the art wall at the Batavia Public Library.


Lobby Exhibit

The Batavia Historical Society provided an exhibit of photographs of immigrants to Batavia throughout the city’s history.


Batavia High School's Advanced Placement World Literature Class created a discussion guide to Of Beetles and Angels.


One Book, One Batavia 2004 was presented by the Batavia Public Library, in cooperation with Batavia High School and Rotolo Middle School. The Friends of the Batavia Public Library and the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence co-sponsored One Book, One Batavia 2004.