A series of Somali success stories in the diaspora.

Refugee Turned CEO: How This Entrepreneur Found A Sweet Spot For Creativity In War-Torn Somalia.

Some twenty-nine years ago, Mohamed Bashir Oman, was born in Somalia’s troubled capital, Mogadishu. At a time when the first shells of artillery had just begun to drop and the walls were just getting ridden with the first spray of bullets, Somalis could be seen fleeing the flashpoints of the war that had just broken out in search of safe zones.

Mohamed Bashir Oman, better known as ‘Maxamed Midnimo,’ was only a child when the attacks became an everyday affair and like most other families, his family had moved from place to place in search of peace and quiet, however temporary.

Life became sort of nomadic for them as they were often migrating – and this was largely because a ‘safe zone’ was only so for as long as it was. The warring factions were drawing precariously close and running seemed like a temporary fix at best, unless it meant fleeing the country entirely.

Midnimo and his family did get some much-needed and long-sought respite when the opportunity to flee Somalia for the Netherlands as refugees presented itself. His family seized the opportunity, relocated to Europe, and set out to start life anew with the trauma of the ongoing war behind them. Midnimo, thus, spent much of childhood and teenage years as a refugee in a foreign land.

But he wasn’t going to allow refugee status stop him from fulfilling his dreams. Full of ambition from such a young age, he was determined to make the most of the situation. Thus, he had a normal childhood, stayed in school, and went on to study Graphic Design.

He also went on to work as a Community Educator and this is where his stock began to rise. Such was his obvious dedication to the growth of the Somali Community in the Netherlands that he rose through the ranks.

Having started out as an educator, his doggedness saw him become a board member of the Somali Community Organization in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and subsequently, its Chairman.

"On a summer vacation to Africa in which he visited his home country along with two other African countries; Ethiopia and Djibouti, Midnimo was exposed to several promising business opportunities."

Some of these ideas had connections with his field – advertising/design. Upon his return to the Netherlands, he was probably bursting at the seams with ideas.

Somalia did begin to recover from the ravages of the long-standing chaos when some semblance of peace began to surface in 2012. Scores of citizens who had fled the country at the peak of the violence were making a comeback to their homeland. Some had even moved on from counting their losses and were now setting up businesses of their own in Somalia.

And before long, Midnimo hopped on the bandwagon. Since the vacation, he had given a lot of thought to going back home to work on the opportunities he had identified on his earlier trip and it augured well that the country was now coming out of many years of turmoil.

Sure, the Somali entrepreneur had made up his mind to venture into business in his country of birth, but he wasn’t about to just dive in head first. He wanted it to be a calculated entry. So, he spent most of 2013 conducting market research, learning the ropes, and getting to grips with vital numbers from the Somali market.

That groundwork, together with some support from members of his family, eventually led to the establishment of Daauus Creative Design Agency in 2015.

From the ground-up, Midnimo has built a budding company in Somalia which currently employs no less than 13 people amongst whom are designers, photographers, marketers, sales representatives, and a host of others.

As Midnimo says; “My dream was to start something that makes not only me happy, but my beloved ones as well. I may have come with the business idea, but no one can be successful without the help of passionate people who strive to help them realize their goals. Although it took some time to find ambitious minds, I’m glad that I now have a team that believes in the business philosophy.”

"Two years after the company kicked off operations, it took home Goobjoog Business Radio’s Marketer of the Year Award in Somalia."

The following year, Daauus was named Business of the Year at the International Somali Awards in London. And it sure looks like there is more in the offing.

Despite the war-induced travails of his early life, the Somali entrepreneur does deserve some credit for choosing to return to his home country with a mindset formed around contributing to the rebuilding process.

Although parts of the country are still prone to intermittent unrest, Midnimo is committed to making things better – quite the inspiration for Diasporans who are nursing thoughts of returning to the motherland and effecting change.

Congratulations to STEP Academy’s First Admitted Harvard Applicants.

Congratulations to STEP Academy’s First Admitted Harvard Applicants

Latifa Said and Mohamed Ahmed are the first two students admitted to an Ivy League college. Both Said and Ahmed attended the Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program that allows Minnesota juniors and seniors to earn college credits at no cost.

Refugee Students’ Success in Kenya Inspires Others.

KAKUMA REFUGEE CAMP, Kenya–Refugee students at this sprawling settlement in northwestern Kenya and in the Dadaab refugee complex on the other side of the country have defied the odds to score high grades in Kenya’s national examinations for primary and secondary school students.

Their achievements are inspiring others to study, with the hope of one day attending university.

“I worked hard in class, despite insufficient teachers and learning equipment at the school,” said Abdiweli Hussein, a 20-year-old Somali native who has been a refugee in Kenya since 2008. Hussein scored 67 points out of possible 84 in Kenya’s secondary-school exam. The minimum score needed to enter a university is 46 points.

“Life as a refugee is hard, but one needs to focus on studying to achieve their dreams,” said Hussein, who now wants to pursue petroleum engineering at the university.

His success so far has not been easy. “I don’t know where my parents are,” said Hussein. “I was brought here by my aunt.”

But hard work, drive and passion helped him to achieve his goal of finishing secondary school with good grades.

“I’m very grateful for scoring such high marks despite all the difficulties and challenges that come with being in a refugee camp,” he said. “I want to encourage other refugees to work hard in class because it’s the only way they can change their lives.”

His classmate and fellow Somali, Abdirahman Abdi, 19, scored 73 points out of 84.

Abdi’s relatives brought him to the camp in 2008. His parents had left their home to find food and never returned. He didn’t know if they were still alive. Today, he wants to study computer science at a university.

“I want to encourage other refugees to work hard so that they can change their lives,” he said. “My aim is to go back to Somalia and help rebuild the nation by helping young people access education.”

Hussein and Abdi both attended Waberi High School in a camp that is part of the Dadaab refugee complex, where more than 235,000 refugees and asylum seekers live. Roughly 50 miles from the Somali border, Dadaab is a cluster of camps that comprise one of the largest refugee settlements in the world.

The Kakuma complex, near Kenya’s border with South Sudan, now holds more than 185,000 refugees.

A 14-year-old among them, Magot Thuch Ayii, scored 413 points out of 500 in Kenya’s primary-school exam, becoming one of the top students in the country. Magot, who is from South Sudan, was a student at Kakuma’s Cush Primary School.

Over a million candidates registered for the primary-school exams, while more than 615,000 took the secondary-school tests. The Ministry of Education oversees the exams. Kenya adopted the exams in 1985 after education reforms that established study tracks that include eight years of primary education, four of secondary education, and then university study for the best students.

Refugee students here and elsewhere in Kenya’s camps have been performing well in the primary and secondary examinations, despite the trauma they go through as displaced people, said officials with UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, which runs schools in the camps.

“They perform very well despite numerous gaps, such as insufficient teaching and learning materials, untrained teachers and overcrowded classrooms,” said Mohamed Hure, an education officer in Kakuma. “Refugees can perform very well if they are provided with the right school environment and adequate resources.”

Last year’s performance by refugee students has especially inspired other candidates in the camps to study for this year’s national examinations.

Georgetown Graduate Inspires Next Generation of Leaders in Somaliland.

With the power to decide a student’s future, college admissions exams are one of the most stressful hurdles on the path to higher education. For the SAT, the exam used by U.S. colleges and universities to make admissions decisions, students are advised to get lots of sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and show up on time.

Typically students don’t have to make a 500 kilometer drive across international borders to reach the nearest testing center. That’s what Somaliland resident Najib Abdihamid Ahmed had to go through, driving all the way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to take the SAT exam so he could apply to Georgetown University in Qatar. But Najib Ahmed isn’t a typical student.

Now a graduate of Georgetown’s Qatar campus, he was a member of the first graduating class of the headline-making Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somaliland, an American-style boarding school for grades 7-12, personally founded and funded by successful American hedge fund trader Jonathan Starr in 2008.

Somaliland, often described as a poor but relatively stable oasis in an unstable region, is an unrecognized nation that broke away from Somalia 25 years ago. Starr’s founding mission was “to build a transformative school in a place the world had written off as hopeless,” then to send the best and brightest to top colleges and universities around the world. For his development plan to work, they would then have to bring their newly acquired skills and valuable diplomas back to Somaliland to become the doctors, lawyers, teachers, and future leaders the struggling republic desperately needs. But there was no guarantee his gamble would work.

“One of the biggest challenges for students in Somaliland is the idea of returning to their country if they have the opportunity to work and live abroad. Returning is a sacrifice not many are willing to make,” explains Najib over the phone from Abaarso, where he now works as the Dean of Boys, and on the faculty of English, history, and social studies. “Being amongst the first cohort of students, my success abroad was as crucial as my return to Somaliland. If I hadn’t returned, over a hundred of Somaliland’s top young minds would not have considered returning upon graduation. Joe convinced me going home was the right decision.”

Joe is Joseph Hernandez, the director of admissions at GU-Q. “When Najib mentioned that he had been offered the opportunity to contribute to the administration of his former school, I encouraged him to take it.” Joe recalls that he was impressed with the quiet applicant from this new innovative school in Somaliland the first time he met him. “When we find a student that has done well in high school and has overcome the odds to do it, that gets our attention.” Recognizing his potential, Hernandez worked to secure the financial aid that made Najib’s enrollment possible.

“I was a typical 17 year old when I came to Doha. I chose Georgetown because I did research and knew it was a top school, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. I only knew that I liked political science, writing and reading books.” But his transition wasn’t easy. The summer heat was unexpected, his luggage was lost, and on his first trip, Djibouti officials deported him back to Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa because his unofficial Somali passport wasn’t recognized. With campus support, he overcame homesickness and culture shock to embrace student life. An honors student, he was a member of the Debate Team and Science Club, and played for the men’s basketball team, graduating with a degree in International Politics in 2017.

His education has served him well as a teacher back in Abaarso. More significantly, he currently helps design parts of the curriculum—a requirement for the continued accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the same institution that accredits top schools and universities in the U.S. and around the world.

Najib speaks humbly of his achievements, but there is unmistakable pride when he shares plans for the future - increasing Somali teaching and administrative staff, a teacher-training university for Abaarso alumni to support the struggling education system in Hargeisa, boosting recruitment drives in more remote regions and neighboring countries, and blue-sky plans to add a primary school someday.

Georgetown University in Qatar has since accepted three more students from Abaarso. Starr, who leaves the day-to-day running of the school to a new headmaster and now spends much of his time in New York raising school funding, knows that the story of his students matters to many people. “Since Najib was part of our first class, he was the pioneer braving a new country and a serious university without any proof that an Abaarso student could make it in such a place,” he says. “That’s why I am so proud of Najib. Our alumni can see that he is back in Somaliland even after graduating from one of the top universities in the world. They can see him thriving, and that is an inspiration.

La kulan Yasmin Cusman, aas-aasaha shirkada Samawad Energy.

Yasmiin Cusmaan Muuse, waa aqoon-yanahad #Soomaaliyeed, oo aas-aastay shirkada Samawad Energy, taasi oo bixisa adeegyada cad-cadeeda ka dhaliya korontada, kana howlgasha gobolka Geeska #Afrika.

15% of Somalis get access to electricity. She wants to change it.
St. Paul has its first Somali-American City Council member

Kassim Busuri is the first Somali-American to serve on St. Paul city council

St. Paul's first Somali-American City Council member was sworn in at City Hall Wednesday, in a ceremony that began with a prayer and ended with two standing ovations.

Kassim Busuri, 32, will represent the city's Sixth Ward, filling the seat that longtime Council Member Dan Bostrom vacated when he retired in December. The other six council members appointed Busuri to serve out Bostrom's term, which lasts until the end of 2019.

"This year is going to be wonderful," Council President Amy Brendmoen told Busuri before he was sworn in. "We're so, so excited to work with you."

Busuri, who is education director at Minnesota Da'wah Institute and child care center director at Bright Start, was one of seven candidates to seek the interim council member position. As part of the interview process, candidates had to confirm that they do not plan to run for the Sixth Ward seat in November. The entire council is up for re-election this year

Before the speeches and celebration began Wednesday morning, Imam Hassan Mohamud spoke to the crowd, offering a prayer and words from the Qur'an.

"Allah stated in the Qur'an, chapter five, verse two, we work together for the benefit of humanity," he said. "Thanks God giving us this opportunity to serve the people of St. Paul."

Mayor Melvin Carter offered the new council member a few pieces of advice — and accolades.

"When we have an opportunity to seat someone like Council Member Busuri, who has spent a lifetime in community, in service to community in different capacities, who brings not only passion and commitment but a deep capacity and love for our city, that's good not only for Ward Six but it's good for our entire city," Carter said.

The Sixth Ward, located on St. Paul's East Side, includes the Frost Lake, Hayden Heights, Hazel Park, Payne-Phalen, Phalen Village and Prosperity neighborhoods.

"I am thankful and I am humbled," Busuri said after he was sworn in. "This is the city that I love the most, and I will continue to serve."

In an interview, Busuri said he's already started meeting with Sixth Ward residents and business owners. His top priorities for the ward are filling empty storefronts, reducing crime — especially youth violence — and preserving and building housing.

Busuri was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and spent his early childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya before immigrating to the United States with his family in 1996. A St. Paul resident since 2010, he lives with his wife and two children, ages 2 and 4.

Meet the Somali Swede who uses tech events to foster more diverse startups .

Zakaria Hersi. Photo courtesy Orten.io

Orten.io is a Swedish networking and talent development organization focusing on diversity and tech. It takes tech events to the parts of Sweden populated by minority communities to build a more diverse startup scene in the country.

It is open to all, but founder Zakaria Hersi says that they “focus mostly on women and people with immigrant backgrounds, 18–35 years old.” Zakaria is a Swede with Somali heritage, and he started Orten.io in 2016 following his experiences and those of his immigrant friends in the search for work within the Swedish job market.

“Orten.io was created so no other person of colour, migrant, or female has to go through what I went through,” he told My Salaam.

Sweden, and especially the capital, Stockholm, has a vibrant and thriving tech startup industry. “But those who control these companies or the wealth are usually middle-aged men who are from a tightknit network,” said Zakaria. “I see lack of diversity among management, founders and at board levels.”

He says there are many factors that have created this situation, and those who are now successful usually had access to the right networks, knowledge and opportunities. “Most of the tech founders went to the same exclusive university and get supported by the successful alumni. … We as immigrants don’t have this network and can’t tap family or parents who work in banks or larger companies to help us get internships.”

He told us of two of his friends, a Palestinian and an Iraqi, each with two advanced degrees and a Mensa membership, who just could not find jobs. Instead, they started a business together to commercialise the ideas of another friend, of Iraqi heritage, on real-time data compression. It was unsuccessful, but it gave Zakaria a taste for entrepreneurship.

He moved to East Africa, and after an internship, he started a router distributorship business. Within a year, his revenues reached SEK 5.1 million ($550,000). He sold the business and returned to Sweden in 2011 with the intention of finding a normal 9-to-5 job after two years of slogging in his own company.

Orten.io events. Photo courtesy of Orten.io
About 300 applications and four months later, he had had no success, so he tried a different approach. He changed his email address from Zakaria Hersi Abdulkadir to Sakarias Hersi, as Abdulkadir sounds very Muslim, Sakarias is a common Finnish name (and therefore could be Nordic), and Hersi sounded neutral enough. When he submitted the same applications with the new name, positive responses started pouring in. This proved to him that there is a structural problem within Swedish job market that alienates certain sections of Swedish society.

With Orten.io, Zakaria hopes to alleviate the problem of discrimination and lack of opportunities for minorities. “We first of all create events [where] only women or people from minority groups can speak. Speakers share their personal journeys to success.”

In addition, under the Orten Academy, a frontend development bootcamp, selected candidates who show talent are trained for three to four months on a part-time basis, equipping them with the skills to get an internship or a job once they graduate.

“The biggest issue we are trying to solve is the shortage of 70,000 developers in Sweden in the coming three years,” said Zakaria. “At the same time, we are also tackling the issue of unemployment among immigrants, who form 60 per cent of the unemployed. There is huge potential to provide Sweden with a talented diverse developer workforce.”

Miski Ahmed. Photo courtesy Orten.io

Miski Ahmed, 25, is one of the people who have benefitted from Orten.io’s outreach programme. She applied to and got a spot at Orten Academy in 2017. “The whole process and the education were very rewarding. I learned a lot, made friends who became like family, got to learn how to make contacts in the IT industry and somehow break my own barrier, which was to dare to bet and not limit myself. So it was both professional and personal development for me at Orten.io and at the academy.”

The first course at their Academy had over 200 applications, of whom 10 were placed. About 80 percent of their graduates found placements. This autumn, they will offer 20 seats, and they plan to offer more each time.

Miski said, “Today I work at a web agency called Web Tech Media Group, which I love. I admire my fine colleagues: all thanks to this initiative that Zakaria started.”

Zamzam Ibrahim: Newly elected NUS president vows to fight racism and rising student fees.

The winner calls for a National Student Strike to demand 'free education'

amzam Ibrahim has been elected as the new president of the National Union of Students ( NUS )

Zamzam Ibrahim has been elected as the National Union of Students (NUS) president for 2019.

Ms Ibrahim wants to tackle racism on campus and “extortionate” tuition fees during her presidency.

The former president of the Salford University students’ union, who pledged to lead a National Student Strike, was chosen from a list of five candidates at the NUS conference in Glasgow.

The proposed strike would call for free education, a better Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and a reintroduction of a post-study work visa for international students, her manifesto says.

Ms Ibrahim will become the union’s third female Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic president in a row.

In 2017, Ms Ibrahim, the child of Somali refugees, spoke out against the press for portraying her as a “fanatical Muslim and a threat to British society” on the basis of teenage tweets.

She previously told The Independent: “It feels like the aim of this sort of article is to make politically active Muslims feel unwelcome in the public sphere. And it’s working.

“For 48 hours, I have had to sift through comments of hate, rape and death threats and attempts to intimidate me out of the public discourse. But I won’t be silenced.”

In her election manifesto for NUS president, Ms Ibrahim pledged to fight a series of liberation campaigns.

She wrote: “There has been a massive rise in racism, xenophobia, sexism on our campuses and an alarming increase in deportations.

“Our government is responsible for much of this hate. With the hostile environment and far-right rhetoric from MPs, we must campaign for a fairer world – on and off campuses.”

Ms Ibrahim will take over from Shakira Martin who recently told her critics to “f*** off” in a Facebook post after facing motions of no confidence to remove her from the role.

Hundreds of students, elected officers and campaigners from higher and further education are spending this week in Glasgow for the NUS conference.

On Tuesday, delegates voted in favour of training on combating Islamophobia and antisemitism among NUS elected officers.

It comes after Malia Bouattia, who became the NUS’ first Muslim female president in 2016, faced criticism and a parliament-led investigation after she was accused of antisemitism.

Daniel Kosky, campaigns organiser of the Union of Jewish Students said:"We look forward to delivering anti-Semitism training for NUS NEC.

“There is still a long way to go to ensure that NUS is fit for Jewish students, and we hope to continue our collaborative work long into the future."


The leader of Union Students of all over Britain. She could be a potential future Labour Party senior minister.
Oxford place for east London pupil whose mother fled Somali war.


A student from an east London council estate whose mother fled war-torn Somalia hopes to inspire other youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds after being offered a place at Oxford University.

Nadia Hassan, 18, from Leyton, said she was “ecstatic” to receive an offer from Trinity College, Oxford, where she hopes to study French,

Nadia helped her mother, who came to the UK in the Eighties, raise her younger brother, who has autism and ADHD, in their small council house. She lived, along with her three siblings, in an area where gangs operated.

Teachers at George Mitchell secondary school singled her out as a star and coached her to apply for a scholarship. One told her, aged 13, “she could fit in at Oxford” and took her to visit.

In 2016 Nadia won a scholarship to study at Marlborough College, which the Duchess of Cambridge attended.

She wants her achievement to encourage others to aim high. “I’m hoping to make a change on a grander scale. As a person from an ethnic minority I want to inspire people,” she said.

“Not to be too stereotypical, but I want to show people it’s not just white people or people from private schools making a change. I want to show the faces of Britain today.”

She aspires to work in the Foreign Office, where she “can actively do something that helps others”.

She added: “I’ve definitely always wanted to work abroad. I like the process of facilitating something and creating a change.”

While Marlborough College has helped her get to Oxford, she credits her community in Leyton for instilling in her a strong work ethic.

“I think I’m very lucky to grow up in this community, because it has never stopped me from trying to achieve. In fact, it has probably driven me further because there is support in the community,” Nadia added.

“People are very welcoming. I remember when I got my scholarship I had so many people — people I didn’t even know — congratulate me, which I thought was really sweet.”

I featured Ahmed in an earlier post as a Rhodes scholar accepted for scholarship to study at Oxford. He added a new accolade. Well done Ahmed

Ahmed Ahmed wins Soros Fellowship for New Americans

Ahmed Ahmed whose remarkabe journey led him from a Kenyan refugee camp to Cornell, has been awarded a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which will support his medical school studies.

Ahmed, a Rhodes scholar currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, was among 30 immigrants or children of immigrants selected from more than 1,700 applicants for their potential to make significant contributions to the United States.

“This award is a reflection of the heightened sacrifice, investment and guidance those around me have continuously offered, not for recognition, but simply due to kindness,” Ahmed said. “I recognize I could never pay their efforts back, but instead must pay it forward.”

Ahmed was born in a refugee camp after his parents fled the violence in their native Somalia in 1994. The following year, they were granted asylum to the United States, where they settled in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Maryland and his parents each worked two jobs to support their family.

At Cornell, Ahmed initially struggled, but flourished after seeking help from his teachers and learning how to study efficiently. His accolades include the Class of 2017 Outstanding Student Award in 2015 and the 2017 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. In 2016 he was selected for a Rhodes Scholarship.

Before he begins medical school in the fall at either Harvard Medical School or the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Ahmed will work on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC Care program, which aims to provide health care coverage to all New Yorkers. Ultimately, he hopes to help shape public health policy.

“I want to help undo artificial problems, such as people living without health insurance, or citizens living in food deserts, that we, as a country, have created,” he said.

Soros fellows receive $90,000 for graduate school. Past fellows include former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Washington state Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib and composer Paola Prestini.

“It’s thrilling to see what these brilliant young minds from around the country are working on,” said Craig Harwood, director of the fellowship program. “Paul and Daisy Soros fellows are all passionate about giving back to the country and remind us of the very best version of America.”

Ahmed said his time at Cornell prepared and inspired him for what lies ahead.

“Cornell was founded on a bold vision of inclusivity at a time when the scope of the U.S. was explicitly discriminatory,” he said. “The founding principle still resonates with me as a graduate. Our country has more to do to make our institutions inclusive for ‘any person’ – and I remain guided by that cause.”

From Kenyan refugee camp to UB commencement, one graduate's story.

On Sunday, Isnino Iftin graduates from the University at Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and linguistics. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Few of the University at Buffalo students receiving their diplomas at Sunday's commencement have come as far as Isnino Iftin.

Born in a refugee camp in Kenya, she moved to this country at 8, first to Baltimore and then to Buffalo's West Side.

Initially unhappy with the move to this area, she later threw herself into activities at Riverside High School and became an ambassador for the Say Yes Buffalo scholarship program.

Now 23, she is the first in her extended family to graduate from college and was accepted into a doctoral program in education at UB.

"My ultimate goal is to run a school," Iftin said Saturday on UB's North Campus.

Iftin is one of thousands of students graduating from area colleges this weekend, all looking ahead to bright futures.

UB officials say she's an example of students' potential and their ability to overcome obstacles.

Iftin's journey began in Kenya, where she was born to parents who had fled the civil war in Somalia. The camp where she first lived, in Dadaab, is one of the largest in the world run by the United Nations, with more than 200,000 residents in a recent count.

She lived there with her many brothers, her mother, her father, his other wives – polygamy was allowed in their community – and sheep, goats and chickens that were targets of the hyenas that lived outside the camp. She and other family members walked 2 miles to get water for their household needs.

Iftin said she started school there late and then only because officials fed the students.

Iftin welcomed the chance to go to the United States, a destination that spurred competing rumors of frequently kidnapped children and money scattered on the ground, she said.

Her family stayed in Baltimore from 2004 to 2011. Iftin said she liked it there, and she was happy with her school after repeating third grade. She laughed as she recalled wondering why people in this country who could speak English still had to take English class.

Her family later joined many of Baltimore's Somalis in moving away. Iftin said her father had relatives in Buffalo, so they moved here over her objections.

"I hated it," Iftin said, pointing to the winter weather and the sometimes too-tightly-knit Somali community on the city's West Side.

She also was upset when Riverside staff told her the school didn't offer Advanced Placement classes.

"I was crying myself to sleep. 'Why would someone torture me like this?' " she said.

To make the best of it, Iftin – a devout Muslim who on Saturday wore a colorful hijab over a Riverside windbreaker – signed up for soccer, bowling and just about every other girls' sport, along with the poetry club and arts and entrepreneurial programs offered through Medaille College.

At UB, she studied psychology and linguistics.

Iftin regularly spoke about the value of the Say Yes Buffalo scholarship program, interned on a project meant to help Buffalo families fill out financial-aid forms, and returned to Riverside to mentor current students.

Later this year, Iftin will begin work toward her Ph.D. in education culture, policy and society.

Nathan Daun-Barnett, a UB associate professor of educational leadership and policy and one of Iftin's mentors, said he's been impressed with her poise as a public speaker and with her quiet determination.

"Occasionally as a faculty member I'll meet students who are really driven. When they are, they have a vision. But most of them don't have a plan," he said. "Isnino has a plan."

In the long term, Iftin said, she wants to open a school focused on languages that serves people of color and female refugees.

She said she would like to offer instruction in seven languages – including Maay Maay, a Somali dialect – at a school in Kenya, perhaps, and another in her adopted hometown.

"Buffalo has stolen my heart," Iftin said.

For now, she looks forward to Sunday's commencement ceremony, which comes during the Ramadan holiday when she is fasting.

She said she'll have a large family representation there, as many as 20 people, even though she only received six tickets for the event. Iftin pressed an organizer for more passes: "I told her I have a village coming."

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First Somali immigrant to lead Minneapolis public housing board.

Sharmarke Issa to lead city's public housing agency's governing board.

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority has selected Sharmarke Issa to lead its governing board, the first time a Somali immigrant has held in the role.

Issa said after his appointment on Friday that he is “truly humbled” by the opportunity and is looking forward to working with the agency’s board of commissioners and connecting more public housing residents with the organization. He said he believes that everyone has a right to safe and affordable housing.

He will serve as chairman of the nine-member board that oversees decisions about the agency’s annual budget and policymaking.

Issa received both his bachelor’s degree and a master’s in urban planning from Minnesota State University in Mankato. Issa grew up in public housing after coming to the United States as a refugee at age 11.

“Growing up I lived in subsidized housing, I understand the viewpoints of those who are recipients of affordable housing,” Issa said.

City officials say he is the first Somali immigrant in the country to lead a public housing agency’s governing board. Approximately one-third of Minneapolis Public Housing residents are members of the East African community.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that Issa’s background and appointment to the board “highlights public housing as vital asset in Minneapolis.”

“At a time when the federal government continues to shortchange housing funding, he will be a skilled steward of our public housing infrastructure who understands and centers the needs of residents,” Frey said in a news release.



The one and only 4head
I'm so proud of somalis who make it! Keep dreaming and working, my fellow people.
I'm gonna make it to the news, one day inshallah:samwelcome:

I hope it won't be because i did something bad:gaasdrink:


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