LSCO Welcomes Humanitarian Aid Worker, Jessica Buchanan, March 26

March 19, 2015

Jessica Buchanan
Jessica Buchanan

Lamar State College-Orange will be presenting the Distinguished Lecture Series at Lutcher Theater on March 26, at 6:30 p.m. This year’s distinguished lecturer is Jessica Buchanan, humanitarian aid worker and co-author of “Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue By SEAL Team Six”.

Jessica Buchanan was born in Portland, Oregon, but spent her formative years growing up outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.  In 2003, Buchanan moved to the greater Philadelphia area to pursue a degree in education, and she began to travel during her summer months, teaching and volunteering in Honduras, South Sudan and Rwanda. She secured a student teaching position at an international school based in Nairobi, Kenya, The Rosslyn Academy and was offered a full time teaching position at that school, which she happily accepted. She later moved to Hargeisa, Somaliland, where she was offered a job as the education advisor for the Danish Demining Group, the mine action unit of the Danish Refugee Council.

In 2006, twenty-seven-year-old Jessica Buchanan arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, with a teaching degree and long-held dreams of helping to educate African children. By 2009, she had met and married the man of her dreams, a native Swede named Erik Landemalm, who worked to coordinate humanitarian aid with local authorities in Africa. With dreams of starting a family, they moved from Nairobi to Somalia, and their future couldn’t have been brighter…

But on October 25, 2011, Jessica and a male colleague were kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom by an organized band of Somali land pirates. For the next three months, Jessica was terrorized by more than two dozen gangsters. She was held outdoors in filthy conditions and kept on a starvation diet while her health steadily deteriorated. Negotiations for ransom dragged on, and as the ordeal stretched into its third month, the captors grew increasingly impatient.

Every terrifying moment Jessica spent suffering in captivity was matched by that of her adoring husband working behind the scenes to deal with her captors. Finally, on January 25, 2012, President Barack Obama ordered a rescue operation by a team of twenty-four Navy SEALs. The team killed all nine kidnappers, with no harm to the hostages, who were quickly airlifted out on a military rescue helicopter.

In riveting detail, Impossible Odds details Jessica and Erik’s mutual journey during those torturous months. Together they relate the events prior to the kidnapping, the drama of Jessica’s fight to stay alive, and Erik’s efforts to bolster and support the hunt for her while he acted as liaison between their two families, the FBI, professional hostage negotiators, and the United States government.

Buchanan’s book, “Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue By SEAL Team Six”, is currently available for purchase at the Lamar State College-Orange Bookstore and will also be available for purchase before and after the lecture.  A book signing will began immediately after the lecture on the 2nd floor of the Lutcher Theater.

The Distinguished Lecture Series at Lamar State College-Orange is part of the College’s mission to provide community service activities that promote economic development and cultural awareness.  The series began in the spring of 2002 with the appearance of journalist, Peter Bergen.

Since then, the Lecture Series has presented such notable speakers as CIA case officer and author Robert Baer, entertainers/motivational speakers Ben Stein and Liz Murray, Pulitzer prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, political analyst and news correspondent Cokie Roberts, award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, NFL player and football analyst Merril Hoge, and world-renowned news journalist Stuart Varney.

If you would like to be contacted with information regarding future lectures, please contact Maria Garcia at (409)882-3097 or email at

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