Standing among the Libyan rebels near Sirte, the hometown of fugitive leader Moammar Gaddafi and the last stronghold of his loyalists, is a figure that doesn’t quite belong.
Like most of the other rebels, he is holding an AK-47, and wearing camouflage trousers, a bullet hanging on a necklace, and a grey-and-black cap.
But Chris Jeon isn’t Libyan. The 21-year-old interviewed by the National and Christian Science Monitor is a university student from Los Angeles, who flew on a one-way ticket from home to Cairo and made his way to Tripoli to help the rebels in their final push for victory.
Jeon told the National that he came to Libya because “It is the end of my summer vacation, so I thought it would be cool to join the rebels... This is one of the only real revolutions” in the world.
He told the National he is a University of California Los Angeles student due to graduate this May.
While Jeon has to ask questions of the rebels, such as how to fire his AK-47, he got some street cred trekking the 248 miles from Tripoli to Sirte.
“The rebels have clearly taken to the mathematics student with no obvious political leanings who decided to slum it as an Arab Spring revolutionary before going back to his calculator for fall semester,” the National writes.
His new friends have even begun to call him Ahmed El Maghrabi Saidi Barga, a name that mashes up the names of local tribes and areas. And when they don’t understand what Jeon — who doesn’t speak Arabic — is saying, he says his name and the rebels begin to cheer.
Jeon is enthusiastic, too, not worried about the possibility of being hurt in crossfire and without a ticket to go home.
He just hopes his parents don’t find out where he really went for the end of summer vacation.
Read more about Jeon at the National and the Christian Science Monitor. These appear to be Jeon’s Facebook page and Linked In page. If so, it does look like he is a UCLA student slated to graduate in 2012.