For Nick Kristoff’s New York Times opinion column, VII Mentor photographer Christopher Lee photographed Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi, who lives with his family in a shelter in New York City. Tani went from chess novice to chess champion in little over a year.
Tani and his family fled Northern Nigeria in 2017 fearing Boko Haram. Since arriving in NYC, Tani began attending PS 116 where he was taught chess by a part-time chess teacher. A year later, he was crowned state champion, beating out peers from wealthy private schools that have coaches and resources that someone like Tani wouldn’t have had access to. “Tani is a reminder that refugees enrich this nation — and that talent is universal, even if opportunity is not.”