My Interview With Mohdi Ali By: Mohamed Mohamed
Background • Somalia is a war torn country because of a the dictatorship of Mohamed Siad Barre. He ruled as president and ruled with tribal preferences. He was from the tribe called “Darod” and favored his tribe. He would give government jobs to his tribe. Other tribes thought it was unfair and this led to a rebellion • In 1988 the first rebellious acts had tooken place in northern Somalia and by 1991 the revolution had reached the capital city of Mogadishu. • They government was overthrown by warlords and different tribes fought for the power of the country.
Background cont. • People ran for their lives in seek of peace and refuge from the savage civil war. The people of the “Darod” tribe were being targeted, even those who had nothing to do with the government. • They fled by foot, automobile, and by boat. Many fled to nearby countries like Kenya and Ethiopia. UN had set up many refugee camps were help was given to the Somali people. • Many refugees were taken in by major countries in the world like the U.S. and England.
Interview with Mohdi Ali • 1. When and What was the primary reason you immigrated to the United States? “Ok, I came to the U.S. in 1989. The Somali National Government sent me to the United States to get a Masters degree because my new career required it. I was with a group of 20 men all sent by the Somali national government to study different areas of study. We all went to the University of New York Albany. That is how I immigrated to the United States and came through a visa. I stayed because I couldn't return to a country with so many problems.”
2. What did you do before moved to the United states? • “Before I came to the United States ,I was a college graduate at the Somali National University and I got a job as a Teacher in at the German Technical Training Academy in Mogadishu. I then became manager of the German Technical School and I got to go to Germany for seminars. They then reviewed my resume and preferred I get a masters degree to continue my career. I then went to the Somali national government when I arrived in Somalia and told them about the situation. The government then sent me to America.”
3. Where did you first settle when you came to this country? • “I first settled in Albany, New York. I lived in the dorms of the University. I was with many other Somali men so I wasn’t too lonely.”
4. Did you know English when you came here? • “ I actually knew fluent English and my reading was great. The only problem I had was that I had a very thick Somali accent. This was tough on me because I had to repeat my self several times before someone understands me. This included my professors and classmates.”
5. What was the trip to the United States like? • “The trip was nice. I took a plane from Mogadishu to Kenya and stayed in Nairobi for a few days. I went a little shopping there so I was ready for my trip and was very excited. I always loved education.”
6. What was your first impression of the United States? • “ My first expression of the united states was that it was nice and it had an amazing University system. I have been to Germany before so it wasn’t so much a surprise to me. I loved the feeling of being a student and learning new things. ”
7. Did you experience any racism or prejudice when you moved here? • “ In the University I don’t remember any racism acts happening to me but I do remember after a couple of years how I started to notice racism in the United States. As I got accustomed to its culture I have noticed the lack of service and the hate feelings against African Americans. I hated it because in Somalia nobody cared about skin color they cared about tribe. Since there isn't any tribes here to classify you by, they classify you by race. I hated it.”
8. What jobs did do when you got here? • “When I first got here I didn’t get any job because the Somali National Government giving us pocket money every semester. So I had no need to get a job back then, my goal was to focus on my studies.”
9. How did the Government Support you? • “ The United States government helped me because it was paying my tuition to the University. It was being run by UNESCO which is a United Nations program. UNESCO stands for untied nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization. They were paying for my higher education at Albany.”
10. How successful has the Somali ethnic group been in this country in terms of wealth, community, and political influence? • “Well, the Somali community in many cities in the U.S. remains strong. There is always a community center where they gather and they remain strong to not lose cultural values. Some Somali people are very wealthy but the majority remains to just get by because of the quick adaptation to a new country. The Somali ethnic group has not yet stepped up to the plate politically, but as the generations continue I am sure that there will be more Somali people in politics. Come on, if Obama could do it then why couldn’t a Somali person.”