There's a line in LOOP that says, "Everything's connected to everything else." No kidding: just ask our narrator Claude Mumbere. Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Claude has lived 18 years of hard-to-imagine connections. A resident of Burlington, Vermont since 2009, Claude moved to Los Angeles in 2004. Within his first year in the States Claude augmented his French, Swahili, and Lingala with English, and gradually began to get the hang of being an American teenager. But coming from the DRC affords a perspective that not every American teen might appreciate. "It's safer," he said of his newly adopted country, "It's more organized, less violent here. I love the U.S."

Claude's a committed soccer player—a twelve-month athlete. "I'm passionate about the game," he said. But according to his Burlington High School English teacher and mentor Benjamin Roesch, he's also a superb student. Claude comes from a family that appreciates the power of words. His father is the Congolese writer and playwright Pierre Mumbere Mujomba. In the spring of 2011 Claude won the Vermont state championship for the Poetry Out Loud competition, qualifying for nationals in Washington DC. Soccer star, solid student, and…a reader of romantic poetry?

"At first I had to keep it on the down low," he says about discovering the pleasures of poetry. But following his recitation success, Claude is much more willing to say it loudly and proudly. Besides, he admits, "There are a lot of girls interested in poetry."

With college applications approaching fast, Claude is considering his options. Following recent successes in Poetry Out Loud, he's looking hard at a career in communications; he calls it Plan A. Medicine might be Plan B. "I plan to attend college and give back to the world every opportunity it has provided me. I hope to go to college and then accomplish big things."