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My mom is proud of my English. But I want to speak Somali with her



My mom, my Hooyo, has a special way of teaching you so much about the world and so little about herself.

She tells you the parts of her life that are going to push you to succeed the way she did, without letting you see the struggles she went through.

She often tells me about her education in Somalia. She loved school, and she excelled in it. “My favorite thing to do was study,” she said about her youth. “I don’t remember any test I failed.”

“You never failed a test in school?” I asked her.

“I don’t think so.”

I was only four when my family came to America. My Hooyo thought English was the key to success for her children. What she didn’t expect was for me to give up her mother tongue, Somali, in exchange.

When I was younger I spoke to my Hooyo in Somali and to my brothers and sisters in English. My Hooyo liked watching us get better at speaking English. She was proud.

But as I got older, I wasn’t able to express myself the way I wanted to in Somali. That meant my Hooyo wasn’t able to have the comfort of her homeland within her own home.

For my Hooyo, speaking the Somali language was when she felt most comfortable. She was afraid that my brothers and sisters and I would lose our language — and with it our culture.

So she started pushing all of her children to embrace their culture and their language. We played games where my Hooyo would test our Somali vocabulary with a picture dictionary.

But once I started speaking Somali more often, I realized just how much trouble I had and I gave up on the language.

I was embarrassed about not knowing my language so I pushed my culture away with it. I stopped wanting to answer the phone and talk to my relatives in Somali. I didn’t go inside the mosque or the Somali store.

When my Hooyo realized why I wasn’t going anywhere with her she wanted me to go even more. She told me I would never get better at speaking Somali if I didn’t try.

What she didn’t tell me is that she went through the same thing when she was learning English.

When my Hooyo came to America 13 years ago, she came with seven children and no knowledge of the English language. She spent five years on and off in English classes trying to learn.

She had dreams of going to college, but she thought her children wouldn’t be able to attain success if she was striving for her own as well. My Hooyo worked days and always wanted to spend nights with her children.

“If I study and focus on my studies, you’re going to lose,” she told me. “I have to encourage everybody.”

Learning English got too hard for her sometimes, the way it got hard for me to speak Somali. Her words didn’t always come out right.

“I was look like somebody who never study anything because I didn’t know English,” she said. “It was embarrassing.”

But she never stopped speaking English and never told anyone she couldn’t. She showed me that I didn’t need to be an expert Somali speaker to claim my language, all I needed was the will to keep trying.

My Hooyo stayed in America for her children. She wanted to learn English for her children. I want to speak Somali for my Hooyo.

I want to be able to talk to her in the language that makes her feel most at home. Hopefully one day I’ll feel just as at home with Somali as my Hooyo does.

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Rep. Ellison, Rep. Emmer, and Colleagues Introduce Resolution Condemning Terror Attack in Mogadishu



WASHINGTON — On the one-month anniversary of the October 14th terror attack on Mogadishu, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), along with Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Karen Bass (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced House Resolution 620, which condemns the attack, expresses sympathy for its victims and their families, and reaffirms U.S. support for Somalia.

The October 14th terror attack killed more than 350 people, including three American citizens, and injured another 200—making it the single deadliest in Somalia’s history.

“It’s been a month since the terrible and cowardly attack on Mogadishu, and my heart still breaks for the people of Somalia and their families and friends here in the United States,” Ellison said. “The people of Somalia have shown incredible resilience— coming together not only as part of an inspiring effort to recover from this attack, but also to rebuild their nation in the spirit of peace and prosperity. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to express solidarity with the people of Somalia by strongly condemning the senseless violence, extending our condolences to all those affected by the attack, and reaffirming continued U.S. support for Somalia.”

“Just over a month ago, Mogadishu experienced a horrific and tragic terrorist attack,” said Emmer. “This attack hit close to home with three of our fellow Americans – including one Minnesotan – among the more than 350 men, women and children who lost their lives far too soon. I stand with my colleagues and the Somali community to condemn last month’s attack. I am proud to work with my colleagues to offer condolences and lend support as Somalia works to rebuild itself and its communities in the wake of this recent tragedy. Today, and every day, we stand against terror and join together to rid this world of evil.”
The full text of the resolution reads as follows:

“Strongly condemning the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017, and expressing condolences and sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families.

Whereas on October 14, 2017, a truck bomb filled with military grade and homemade explosives detonated at a busy intersection in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia, and took the lives of more than 350 people and injured more than 200 additional people;

Whereas at least three Americans, Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, were killed in the attack;

Whereas the Somali Government believes that Al-Shabaab was responsible for the attack, although no official claims of responsibility have yet been made;

Whereas Al-Shabaab has previously avoided claiming responsibility for Al Shabaab operations when it believes the operation may significantly damage its public image among Somalis;

Whereas the Department of State condemned ‘‘in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks that killed and injured hundreds in Mogadishu on October 14’’;

Whereas the Department of State stated that ‘‘the United States will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity’’;

Whereas according to the Department of State’s Country Report on Terrorism for 2016, Al-Shabaab is the most potent threat to regional stability in East Africa;

Whereas the United States continues to support counterterrorism efforts in coordination with the Government of Somalia, international partners, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mainly through capacity building programs, advise and assist missions, and intelligence support;

Whereas Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of national mourning in response to the attack;

Whereas the vibrant, bustling district of Mogadishu where the attack occurred is characteristic of the city’s revitalization, and the solidarity and efforts by the city’s residents to rebuild already are a testament to their resilience; and

Whereas Somalia has been a strong partner to the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017;

(2) expresses its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies for the victims of the attack and their families;

(3) honors the memories of Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, who were murdered in the horrific terrorist attack;

(4) recognizes the significant efforts to combat terrorism by the Government of Somalia, the countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, and United States forces in Somalia;

(5) reaffirms United States support for the Government of Somalia’s efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity and combat terrorism in Somalia; and

(6) renews the solidarity of the people and Government of the United States with the people and Government of Somalia.”

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Somali youth project update (Project TooSoo)



CBC —  For the past year, a group of young Somalis in Toronto has been learning how to re-claim the stories told about their community.

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Looking back on my Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace | Mo Farah



I recently had the honour of being knighted by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace. When I came to the UK from Somalia aged 8, not speaking any English, who would have thought that my running would eventually lead me here? This was another very special gold medal for me and I am so honoured to have received it. Here’s a little glimpse of how the day went for me.

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