A World to Discover

This February, Bushra celebrates the four-year anniversary of her arrival in Minneapolis! Although immigrating to a new country brings many challenges, Bushra says that living outside her native Somalia before coming to the United States helped to prepare her for life here.

At 14 years old, Bushra moved with her family to Saudi Arabia for job opportunities. This was the first time she encountered language and culture different from her own. Everyone around her spoke Arabic, and she only understood Somali. It was overwhelming at first, but she slowly began to learn and adapt.

Then, in 2006, there were rumors of peace in Somalia, and her family decided to return. Bushra, however, remained behind to meet her future husband. Also from Somalia, he was traveling to Saudi Arabia from Minneapolis, where he had been living since 2000, for their wedding. Three months after their wedding, he had to return to the United States. Bushra stayed and applied for a visa to join him.

Pregnant and alone, Bushra returned to Somalia to be near her family. The civil war was escalating, however, and they soon all moved to Kenya. In Nairobi, Bushra discovered a new world of people – filled with more faiths, ethnicities, and languages than she had ever imagined.

The biggest shock for her was seeing women outside uncovered. She compares the experience to a non-Muslim seeing people walking around completely naked. After her initial panic, with exposure and time, Bushra learned that people have many different beliefs and backgrounds. So, when her visa was approved, she wasn’t worried about moving to a hugely diverse country like the United States.

Since she’s started taking classes at the ELC, Bushra has had lots of opportunity to put her intercultural skills to use! Students come from at least 35 different countries. While she was a little uncertain at first how to talk with everyone, Bushra has enjoyed getting to know her classmates and likes learning about other cultures and views.

Bushra spends time talking about culture and difference at home too. Her young and observant children often have questions about why people dress or look one way or another. Bushra is grateful to be able to explain, from first-hand experience, that in the U.S. people have the freedom to believe what they want.

When she completes her classes at the ELC, Bushra wants to become a nurse, which will surely allow her to continue working with people from all walks of life. She also thinks she would like to visit Somalia to help those there who are in need.