Breaking Out of the Box

“I could not go anywhere. No movement…My life was a box. I live 23 years there.”

This is how Ibrahim describes living in a refugee camp in Kenya from age 9 to 32, after fleeing violence and civil war in his home country of Somalia. He was not free to travel or even leave the camp, and he had no idea when or if he’d be chosen for resettlement in another country. Then, in 2014, Ibrahim received word that his long wait was over. He was on his way to the United States!

Ibrahim regards coming to the United States as his happiest moment. He remembers a man from resettlement services greeting him by name. “I didn’t know anything [when I arrived]…He showed me my apartment and told me to eat chicken.” After just ten short days in Atlanta, however, Ibrahim decided to move to Minnesota. Many people had told him this was a good place with better opportunities for work.

The transition to life in Minnesota was slightly eased because Ibrahim already knew a “little, little bit” of English. He was able to attend school through grade seven in Kenya. Then, in February 2017, he started classes at the English Learning Center. He says, “A lot of people said this was a popular school, the best school. I think it’s very nice. When I started, I did not know how to read, how to write. Now I’m okay.”

In the last year and a half, Ibrahim has moved from our level two English class all the way to level 5/6, our most advanced class! This progress has helped Ibrahim with his job at the airport where he works second shift driving a truck. Often, he is the one helping new employees who speak less English. “I talk with these guys and interpret. I tell them about their job schedules. In my future, I will be a manager, a supervisor.” In the meantime, Ibrahim will continue working hard to improve his English to help him reach his goal!