For the Love of a Sister

“I truly believe they are progressing faster because they are tutoring each other.”

Hodan and Sawda are much more than classmates. They are also sisters and best friends. At ages 23 and 24, they claim that they have never fought. In fact, they can’t even imagine sisters fighting! If you have a sibling, you might find this hard to believe.

Their bond, however, comes in part from the unique experiences they share. Originally from Somalia, the sisters fled their war-torn country and journeyed with their mother to Minnesota as refugees. Additionally, since childhood, Hodan has suffered from an unexplained medical condition that leaves her temporarily debilitated. Sawda is the one who helps her the most when these episodes happen. These struggles, they explain, have only brought them closer.

In the classroom, Hodan and Sawda learn English together, using their combined knowledge to teach each other and practice. If one does not understand something, the other helps explain. Because, ultimately, neither believes that she has achieved success unless the other is standing right there with her.

Both sisters started at the ELC in beginning English and have since advanced to English 2. That means, in just one year, they’ve moved from knowing zero English to roughly a second grade level. (That’s incredible, by the way!) They credit their teamwork for this rapid progress and believe it will continue to help them in the future.

Their teacher, Dean, agrees: “Hodan and Sawda are extremely supportive of each other. They sit next to each other, check each other’s work, and take great pride when their assistance helps the other master a concept. I truly believe they are progressing faster because they are tutoring each other.”

When asked what the appreciate most about the other, both are quick with praise. Hodan describes her sister’s care when she is not feeling well as generous and loving. She says Sawda goes above and beyond, helping her cook and clean. Sawda states that she is most grateful for Hodan’s countless prayers, loyalty, and help with schoolwork. She claims Hodan has an incredible memory and remembers the things she cannot.

In the future, both hope to go to college. Each, of course, wants only the best for the other. Hodan says she hopes Sawda will gain a high level of education and will stay strong. Sawda’s wishes for her sister include education and–most importantly–good health.

There’s no telling how far these two will go. But one thing is certain–they will do it together. They both agree that the best thing about having a sister is the pride they feel when the other excels. May Hodan and Sawda remind us that we all do better with a little help from a friend!