It s hard not to feel removed as an American. Our experience with the crisis is usually limited to dramatic headlines and shaky cell phone videos.

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1 Narration Effects/External Audio Dialogue fade-in clip of Abdi singing the Somali national anthem BBC News Clip: Another boat, the second of the last ten minutes on this stretch of water. *People cheer in the background* Fox News Clip: Hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers are risking everything Trump: It s an unbelievable humanitarian problem. I see something about the refugee crisis everywhere I look. Western media today usually covers the Syrians fleeing ISIS, but there are millions of refugees from other parts of the world, including Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia. It s hard not to feel removed as an American. Our experience with the crisis is usually limited to dramatic headlines and shaky cell phone videos. And then I stumbled across Abdi. The radio program This American Life did an episode about refugees a few months ago. The episode followed a Somali refugee on his journey to the United States. Here s a quick clip from the show. This American Life Clip (04:38): The American. Abdi the American. That s my nickname. I became totally fascinated by Abdi the American. I knew that he had made it to the U.S., but I didn t know much else. So I looked around. I found an and set up a time to chat. Abdi was the one singing the Somali national anthem at the top of the show. But he says that his music taste was mainly influenced by the West. I grew up in the world of rap with Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, and Puff Daddy. I like a bunch of guys, but to be very honest, 50 cent would be my favorite rapper. There s some guys I like more than rappers, have you ever heard of George Michael? George Michael is really great.

2 50 cent and George Michael. If that isn t the essence of America, I don t know what is. I can t say that I m a huge George Michael fan, but I get where he s coming from. I began to think that Abdi and I weren t all that different. And then we started talking about the harder stuff. Like I said, before I left my friends back in Africa, back in Kenya it was like because you speak English, you ll understand all about American culture, you'll easily blend. And I said okay, and then when I came here one year later, I had to report back to them and say guys, It's not easy, I'm struggling. And they're like, "You're struggling? And you've been there for a year?" So you know, it's the wrong assumption in America, it's so wide, so complex. And then I just talk to my friends and I'm like, I still need to learn lots of things. These daily struggles aren t always about abstract cultural differences, either they can be mundane, too. When I was back in Somalia or Kenya, we never had to put anything in the oven or wash the dishes in the dishwasher. It was pretty simple. You just have pieces of wood to put together to make a fire. Then you put the pot on top and just cook it that way. Abdi says that the real difficulty has been the lack of interaction with family and friends. There s an eight hour time difference between Maine and East Africa, and everybody s just so busy all the time. With my mother and sister, it s a different story because they do not use the Internet. So for me to call them, it will cost me $20 and I can t do that every day, as it s really expensive. So, what I do is I ll only talk to them once a month and then my mother will be like this is not possible, we want to talk more and more and more, and I m like Mom, it s expensive to call Somalia and you guys are not on the Internet. Things are getting better, though. Abdi found a group of other refugees to hang out with. He says that it s great to be around people who know what he s going through.

3 I like kind of got involved in the community. Before the winter, I was playing soccer with a bunch of other guys, all immigrants. Somalis, Afghanis, so many immigrants. Came all together and we have one common language, it's English, and we played soccer for like three hours. And then we talk, we just talk and talk and talk and then talk about life here, and exchange our experiences. Day to day life is going pretty well for Abdi. There are, however, still times when he can t shake off his past. I ve been quite struggling, a lot, kind of getting better from the PSTD, I think it s called. PTSD, yeah. Yeah, that's really something very common in anyone who comes from a war-ravaged country. For the first few nights that I was in Maine, I m like still thinking, this is not true I really still feel like it's a dream. Then, I have to turn the light on and see everything like yeah it s real, it's not a dream. Abdi says that his older brother Hassan is the one that keeps him anchored to Africa. They re incredibly close. But the dynamic between the brothers has changed since Abdi arrived in America. He was always trying to act like an older brother. He was like trying to tell me the right things to do. Some of the things that he was trying to tell me to do is: go to college, forget about what happened in the past, forget about anything bad, just try to start from scratch, just live a decent life, live a life of freedom, a life free of anxieties and free of all those other things. Don't think back, don't remember about what happened you can write them down, but don't let the past kind of take over. He has been a refugee in Kenya for 14 years now. I'm trying to motivate him right now. So it feels like I ve got a responsibility. It s still creating some anxiety in my heart. Abdi knows how lucky he got. He knows that it could have easily been the other way around, with him in Africa and his brother in America. And, unlike many refugees, he s gotten a lot of help since coming to America. His story was told on a number of radio stations across the country, and one listener in particular was compelled to reach out.

4 That's actually where Sharon met me. Sharon had heard my story and she said this is incredible, we got to reach out to this young man. Sharon and her family welcomed Abdi into the country and offered him a place to stay. They drove for six hours to meet him at Logan International Airport on the night that he arrived. Sharon s since acted as a foster mother of sorts, and she s been showing Abdi around and teaching him about life in America. It's like, you know there's sometimes some emotions that you cannot explain in words. I mean, I really don't know what to say to them, but it's like we have nothing in common except that we speak English together. I come from a totally different culture, I come from a totally different religion, I have a different color, everything's different. Really, it's been so I'm so grateful for what I have received here. Abdi s friends back home have a lot of questions about his new life. So they might ask like, Hey what's the, is this real with Donald Trump, Abdi, what is he doing? I'm like well, it's just America, it's free, anybody can say anything he wants. It's a wonderful world we live in, this is what it is. When I asked Abdi what was next for him, he wasn t sure. He s still trying to figure out how he fits into the great American narrative. I have a friend she's American, she lives in Vermont, and she's like You know, Abdi, if you start dreaming in English, that is when you become an American. So I'm really looking forward to that night when I can just start dreaming in English and say oh my goodness, that's it, you know that's when I really become American. The one thing he knows for sure, though, is that he wants to tell stories. If you read about the Somali history, we are the Italians are the ones who colonized us so they call us the "oral society." We're an oral society, we don't really -- like in Somalia,

5 they don't write histories but they just talk. We are I could say we are pretty good storytellers because at least everyone in Somalia has his own or his family's story to talk about. But here's the thing because of this illiteracy in Somalia, we don't have um lots of news in Somalia, we don't have newspapers, we don't really have great radios, so people are like stuck. They have billions stories to tell, but no one is listening because they don't have the means to tell these stories. And so Abdi decided he would learn to tell these stories. He s going to school to study radio and storytelling. He ll be learning how to produce audio stories there, and he says that he wants to share the stories of his countrymen back home in Somalia. One message I would really send to the entire world is that they need to help Somalis. If there's like one explosion in Kenya, the entire world talks about it, the UN talks about it, you know Ban Ki Moon talks about it. But the millions and millions and millions of Somalis who are dying every day because of a bomb explosion, because of gunshots nobody talks about it, they think that we were meant to die, they think that's it's just easy to die in Somalia. Everybody in Somalia is as equal as everybody else in the entire world. We always hear about refugees on the run, but we don t really talk about their lives after they settle down. Every refugee has a story and a dream and Abdi was nice enough to share his with me. There s a world out there where it's peace like you see in the movies so why not dream?

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