PORTLAND, Maine – A Maine high school student who fled his native Zambia says the experience of participating in a national spoken poetry competition was "heaven" even though he didn't advance.
Deering High School junior Allan Monga had to go to court to become one of 53 participants Tuesday in the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who championed his cause, said the asylum seeker learned about "persisting through challenges to chase your dreams."
A federal judge allowed the 19-year-old Monga to participate in the competition hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA originally prohibited Monga from competing because he hasn't been granted legal asylum.
Monga told the Portland Press Herald that, "Just being here and experiencing this was like heaven."