Click here to see Fatuma in the Pursuing Dreams film

Coming to a foreign and a strange country like the United States, I had to endure instances of challenging life experiences just like any other immigrant who comes to this country. Through hard work and curiosity to understand other people in a different social, economical and religious context, I managed to minimize the gap between me and the American society.

I came from a place where I used to speak and practice all the time in Somali but coming here, I had to learn a new and different language that I didn’t spoke before. Having been born and raised in a society where everyone was like me, I came to a place where I was the different one in so many aspects. Among them were: the way I dressed, the different language I spoke, and the thick accent I used were the major obstacles I had faced.

I really didn't know how to read much English. Sometimes I used to feel shy and sometimes regretted whenever I said incorrect words. I was feeling like a timid cat, afraid to talk or even discuss with others. I also used to think that people would make fun of the way I spoke. I was scared that people might make funny stories about me and I constantly felt embarrassed whenever I thought people were talking about me. They talked in their language and they laughed loudly and that was what made me think that they were not being nice even though they were not talking about me. I was lonely meaning that I did not have anyone who spoke my language who I could get help from. My binder had protected me from talking with other students. I pretended to do work when I was not doing anything. I was making myself as a busy person who don't have time to talk.

I remember one day, I cried because of the way I did not ask for help and I was getting a bad grade. I felt lonely whenever I saw people communicating in their own language and I felt jealous of them. I just needed someone who knew my language and understood me who I could go to and ask for help. At that time, I thought if I didn’t learn English in one week, I will not be alive. I was about to explode because I couldn’t handle my hurt. I told my mother what had happened to me and she used to say, “It’s fine daughter. You don't have to look down on yourself and you will learn English just the way other students learned.”

However, after about a month, I overcame some of my fears. I started to forget what happened in the past and tried to start anew. I have learned more about the different cultural backgrounds of the society in which that I live. I had made new friends that have the same and different backgrounds. It is much easier for me now to interact with other people compared to the time when I was new to this country. Now I get to speak, practice and learn more English.

Indeed I had faced challenges when I started living in California. Even though learning English was a big issue for me, right now my heart is happy just the way people feel during the sunset. Sometimes I ask myself why I felt that way. Everyone was just the way I was when they were learning the language, and no one was born speaking a language. But now I get to experience more. Whenever I am facing challenges like when I was new, I just try everything and I believe that I can do anything.

My dream is to go to college and become a nurse. I think that’s a skill I will have in the future or until I die and I want to help people who need my help here and in my country.

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AuthorRefugee Transitions