Committed to Community

Beshir was born in Somalia in a city near the border of Ethiopia. He moved to Mogadishu when he was ten years old after his mother was killed in the civil war.

Now 32, Beshir arrived in Minnesota only two years ago but is already an engaged community member. Currently living in South Minneapolis with two sisters and one brother, he says he most appreciates, “the people who stop to say hello, see human beings as each other, and say, ‘Welcome.’”

Beshir remembers Somalia as a beautiful country divided by conflict. He tries to remain connected to struggles happening back home. Last fall, he participated in a rally in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood supporting several liberation movements in East Africa. People from many different places came together waving flags and wearing hats and shirts representing various groups.

Beshir himself is Ogaden, a group of people who are ethnically Somali and reside in both Somalia and in parts of Ethiopia. According to Beshir, the Ogaden were colonized by the Ethiopian government in 1776 and are still seeking freedom.

School plays another important role in Beshir’s life. He is eager to learn English. Each morning, he spends time reading books and reviewing what he has learned in class. In the evening, he is one of the first students to arrive at school and makes sure to stop by the office to practice his conversation skills with staff.

He explains, “[It’s] important to learn the language spoken here to work jobs and talk to other human beings. When I moved here I became a minority because I don’t speak the language. I don’t want to feel left out. I feel embarrassed when I have to ask for an interpreter, and I want to be independent.”

Since last fall, Beshir’s hard work has paid off. He’s advanced a level in both math and English and also added on a computer class. However, he’s not content to stay there and frequently asks when he’ll be ready for the next level!

Beshir’s desire to learn extends beyond himself. He often offers to interpret for lower level students. In the future, he hopes to give back to his community by attending university to become an English teacher for people new to this country.