St. Cloud, Minnesota, has been my home for the past few years, but my journey started in Somalia. As a young child, I was raised by loving parents and surrounded by a family living in peace. The “peace” didn’t last long; the ongoing Somali Civil War caught up with us, and we needed to escape it. This meant leaving the only home I’d ever known. Our destination was anywhere we could live in peace.
I don’t recall much from the trip to Kampala, Uganda, but I knew this journey to our new home would take a lot longer than I’d thought. Alongside my baby brother, older brother, sister, and cousin, we listened to everything our mother told us to do. We were young and didn’t know much about the world yet, so we did as we were told.
Before our life was uprooted, our dad had gone on a journey of his own, seeking the opportunity to better the lives of his family. He migrated alone on a boat through the Mediterranean Sea, from Somalia through Ethiopia, Sudan, and Libya. He made his way through Europe, where he landed at his final destination: the United Kingdom. He was able to get a job to provide for us on our separate journey to our new home. He was the main reason we were more financially secure than most others in our situation.
In Kampala, we settled in, found a new place to call home, and eventually went to school. While we were there, we started formal paperwork to get resettled somewhere “safe,” which meant we were declared refugees. This was a lengthy process that involved traveling to different offices, filling out paperwork, and going through multiple interviews, all of which led to the day we were finally approved to migrate to the United States. This was a day full of joy for my entire family.
After multiple flights, we landed in this new place we would call home: Memphis, Tennessee. We knew nothing about this new place, and none of us spoke English well enough to go about on our own. Luckily, we had guides as soon as we landed at the Memphis airport. We were picked up by a resettlement agent, who was with us for our first few months in this country. She took us to do many of the things we now do ourselves, from grocery shopping to eating out at McDonald’s. She was a blessing to my entire family.
We lived in Memphis for three years before we made a move I don’t understand to this day. We moved to Paragould, Arkansas.
I was just halfway through seventh grade when we moved. Paragould was very different from Memphis, so this was a major change. We went from seeing people that looked like us to only seeing white people 99% of the time. This was a big factor as to why we didn’t last long there.
We lived in Paragould for one year before we moved to Minnesota. Just weeks before our big move, our dad was approved for a green card, allowing him to be with us in the United States. He flew from the UK to Memphis, then made the short drive to Paragould.
I was able to finally hug my dad, who I had been talking to on the phone for the past ten years. That night was full of joy. That night, December 14th, 2015, is a core memory of my life.
St. Joseph and St. Cloud, Minnesota
Together with our dad, we made the long drive from Paragould, AR, to St. Joseph, MN. We lived in St. Joe for 2 years before making the short move to St. Cloud, which I still call home today.
I attended all of high school here in St. Cloud at Apollo High School. If I were to describe my time there in one word, it would be “amazing.” I met amazing friends and wonderful teachers who were there for me when I needed them. I graduated in 2020 and now attend Hamline University, double majoring in Legal Studies and Global Studies with a minor in Political Science. I hope to work in foreign policy and relations, making the world a better place for all.