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Nafisa Diriye

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Nafisa Diriye was born in Somalia. She and her family moved to Nairobi, Kenya when she was seven years old. In 2006, her brother, who was living in the United States, sponsored her family and they moved to Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from Edison High School in 2010. In February 2014, she returned to Somalia for the first time since she was a child. She currently lives in Minneapolis and is studying to obtain her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential.

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Nafisa Diriye Transcript

Nafisa’s Story

My name is Nafisa Diriye. I’m originally from Northern Somalia. When I was seven years old, I came to Nairobi, Kenya with my family. My brother, who was in America, sponsor us in June 2006. Everything went right and we came to America. We stayed in Chicago for the first night.

Kenya and America are like two different countries. In America, you must follow the rules. You have the rules and you need to obey. In Kenya, people don’t care about the rules; they do whatever they want. Like if you want to order food, in America, you have to get in line and you can’t just go past the line to get food. In Chicago, we stayed in a hotel and everything was really fancy that I had never seen back in Kenya. When you are sponsored, there are people who will lead you to the hotel and bring you to the airport. It was really amazing how they welcomed us. For the first time when I saw the States—everything was different. I was speechless.

After Chicago, we arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My brother was here and he had rented a house for us in Minneapolis. We stayed there. It had been a long time since I had seen him. He was grown up. I was excited to see him. After a week in Minneapolis he took us to all you can eat buffet. I had never seen a place like that. I had gotten my food and thought after I was done we could go. My brother kept telling me to get more food and eat. It was amazing. I had never seen anything like that.

I was really happy to be here—the land of opportunities. In the same year, I started going to Edison High School and graduated in 2010. For the first time since I left my homeland I went back there on February 2014. I was very surprised how stable it was. I never thought I’m going to see tall buildings and clean streets. I just could not believe it. Everything was amazing. Great people with great hospitality, fresh food—everything was great.

Before I went back to Somalia I didn’t remember anything of Somalia. I left when I was young. I think that since Somalia was in a civil war, I never thought that it would be what I saw when I went there. I thought that Somalia was like a jungle; it was very dangerous. I used to hear that a lot. I used to think that it was really, really bad. But then when I was there, everything was different from what I had heard. Somalia is a great country with peace. It is recovering from what it had been through.

It is really important for everyone to know that Somalia is different than what is in the media or what people talk about. Everyone thinks that people dress in very religious clothing in Somalia. When I went I thought I would wear a full-length hijab, not just a scarf. But when I got there people were wearing different scarves—some people were even wearing pants! There were people from Europe, America, the Middle East, and other parts of Africa. It was more diverse than I thought it would be.

I want people to know that they don’t have to believe what other people say about Somalia. If they have the chance, they should go. There is nothing to be afraid of. There are a lot of other people who feel the same as me. My sister just went there. Everyone should go!