Now He Can Say, “I am Shimoy!”

Shimoy smiles in English class
Saying Goodbye to Shimoy the Rancher

In another life, Shimoy was a rancher of goats, camels, and cows. He insists that he loved all the animals equally, keeping no favorites. The land was beautiful and green, situated between the two largest rivers in Somalia. Although times could be very hard, such as during drought, the whole family worked together to keep the animals and their livelihood alive. He remembers this time fondly, saying it was a good life, but also clarifies, “Now I’m no longer that Shimoy.”

The new Shimoy resides in Minneapolis, navigating life at a much faster pace than anything he knew before. He cares for his wife and four children and serves as an elder of his tribe. He misses his mother and the rest of his family, who remain in the refugee camp in Kenya. “It is hard to be the only ones here,” says Shimoy. “Family is so important, and we have lost that closeness of stopping in to say, ‘Hi,’ every day.”

Becoming Shimoy the Student

The new Shimoy also goes to school, something he’d never had the opportunity to do before. He realized quickly that if he wanted to buy something or get anywhere in his new home, he needed to know how to speak English. “It’s like you’re deaf of blind if you don’t know English.” So when a neighbor told him about the ELC, he decided to give it a try.

“It’s like you’re deaf of blind if you don’t know English.”

Shimoy remembers feeling welcomed his first day at school, saying, “That day, I didn’t know A or B or even my address. But everyone was so kind to me. They all wanted to help me.” In the three years since then, Shimoy has advanced two levels from the English level one class. “When I came here, I had to sign papers with my thumbprint. I couldn’t read them and just had to trust others. Now, I can write my name. When someone asks me, ‘What is your name?’ I can say, ‘I am Shimoy!’ all in English!”

“When I came here, I had to sign papers with my thumbprint. Now, I can write my name. When someone asks me, ‘What is your name?’ I can say, ‘I am Shimoy!’ all in English!”

Dreaming of Shimoy the Teacher

Now that Shimoy knows his way around the school, he tries to help new students like others helped him. “I always show new students the office and tell them where they can find [staff]. In computer class, I help new students work the programs and do things like turn on and off the computer.”

But Shimoy’s desire to help doesn’t end there. When he finishes school, he says, “I want to help the rest of the community the way I was helped. I want to teach.”

“I want to help the rest of the community the way I was helped. I want to teach.”

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