Living with Libyan rebels: U.S. student's story

A student at UCLA had a summer vacation he'll never forget.

Chris Jeon traveled thousands of miles to live with the rebels battling Muammar Qaddafi in Libya.

As CBS News contributor Priya David Clemens reported on "The Early Show" Monday, Jeon got a first-hand look at what he calls "one of the only real revolutions" in the world.

Jeon, a math major who's from Mission Viejo, Calif., was side-by-side with the rebels during the liberation of the town of Nofaliya.

Even though he spoke no Arabic, Jeon bonded with them, bunking in their barracks and learning to fire an AK-47.

He came home with some stunning videos and extraordinary stories of bravery and sacrifice - and a renewed respect for the real cost of freedom.

Jeon's video of the battle for Nofaliya is an amazing first person account of history.

"I'm all about different experiences," he says, "and I wondered, 'What is it really like living with people who are struggling everyday for their freedom?' I can't figure that out, I can't answer that HERE (n L.A.).

"I think I made the decision to go, to buy the ticket, four days prior.

" ... Just living with these people who are literally fighting for their rights, fighting to have that smell of freedom on the streets every day -- I wanted to experience that."

"The first day there,' Jeon continued, "was actually a desert skirmish. Artillery would hit the ground, and they would come up to me and feel my heartbeat to see if I was scared. And of course, it was pounding; they would laugh at me, but I didn't run away. They called me 'Braveheart,' and I think after that, they realized that I was there seriously, and I wouldn't back down or anything; they actually took me into the barracks after the first day and I slept with them."

Jeon also told David Clemens about his scariest moment - and the rebels' surprising taste in music - one thing he surely didn't agree with them on!

Asked what it's like being back on campus, Jeon replied, "It's surreal. It's like a dream. Even though I'm back in Los Angeles, I'm still very much in Libya.

"Living with these guys, hearing the stories that they told me ... they've gone through so much suffering and yet, they were able to wake up every day in the morning, and fight for this cause they so believed in. You know, for them, there was no price too high for their own freedom, and their children's freedom. And that was so inspiring to me."

Jeon was in Libya for a month, and hoped to stay a little longer. But once his story hit the news, his family found out and urged him to come home.

He says he'd like to return, but has no plans yet for his next adventure.

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