Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Story 18: African Mask

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This is my art class. I just made the mask before vacation.

You draw them. I just got it in my mind. The teacher asked us to make a mask, so then I made this kind. I see a lot of books, and I see masks. So I just got ideas from the books. The pictures were in my head. So I just did it.

This look like African masks. Right? That’s what I think. It’s like an animal. Right. That’s what it looks like.

Story 17: I Slept Outside

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In Kenya, like we got our own property so we just cover. In New York it’s cold, but there it’s hot. Sometimes people just sleep outside. So you sleep outside or you go inside. You make a big house. You’ve got different rooms. Here you’ve got a living room inside, but there, we don’t got living room inside…just outside. You’ve got your kitchen outside. You build it somewhere. That’s how it is. And here you cannot sleep outside. But I slept outside one night here.

I slept outside, me and my brother. He was telling me like, “Let’s sleep outside.” So I said, “Okay.” We slept outside. He tricked me though. Then like midnight he went inside.

I woke up in the morning. I got inside, took a shower. It was like Friday night. There was no school. The school was closed by that time. It was the summer.

Story 16: Friday is a Good Day

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We, my brothers and sisters, do some things for fun. Friday is a good day. Lots of other days we have to work hard. So on Friday we watch tv together. We play around. That’s fun. We play cards, all different fun games. I don’t play a lot. My little brother, Raiss, he’s the second son. He’s smart. We sit down and watch tv. I always do those things, but they like playing cards.

We’ve got a game. It’s really fun. My little sister, her name is Amina, she likes to play the game, but she cries. She sits like this, sad. You don’t want to laugh. If you laugh, people will keep hitting you, just hit you. Or I will sit—we sit in a circle—then I will do something funny. If you laugh, people will pinch you. She likes playing that game. She says, “Let’s play, ” and then she cries. I hit the guy sitting next to me, and they hit others. Then you hit me and I hit these guys. That’s how we play. Not hard, but you know. You don’t have to laugh. Sometimes you tickle them. If you laugh, they’ll hit you. It’s not hard. It’s just a game. She cries for real, but she likes the game. Even if you tell her something from a joke, she cries.

Story 15: Pick the Good One

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We, my mom and my dad, we always go to stores shopping, like when we want to buy something for the little kids or when we buy some electricity machine or laundry or computers. I always go with them. They take me so I can pick the right thing. When the electric machine broke, we took it back. They don’t speak English.

We bought the computer in Best Buy. Even there, the washing machine we bought in Best Buy.
When first we got here, we bought a computer. But I wasn’t that good in computers, so my friend from Kenya and I went with them too. He said, “This computer is good.” It was Compaq. So when they brought it home—we just used it like three months—then it started having problems, not working. So we took it back to the store and they said, “You guys gotta call the company.” Then we got it home. We found someone. They fixed it, and it was still the same. When they fixed it, in two weeks, it got the same problem.

So, I got another computer. The one I bought last year, I bought my own e-machine. I bought that one and it didn’t get a problem. One of my friends has it. He bought it in like 2006 and he still uses it. And then two week ago, we bought another new computer for my little brother. We come and I pick the computer.

My parents always ask me. “Make sure you pick something good, because we don’t know which one is good. You know which one is better. It can work well. So make sure you get the good one, the right one.” So they just ask me to pick the good one. They don’t really know which one works better. So I pick same computer I have for my brother, so he’s using one without problem.

When they’ve got an appointment, I translate for them. My big sister too, but she’s not always home, so when I’m home I do that. She used to do it, but now I’m in charge. I always want to when they’ve got an appointment. I want to translate for them because I want to be something in medical field. I told my doctor too. I want to go find out more, ask the doctor questions. When I go there, I always ask the doctors questions.

Story 14: Mom and Dad

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She’s my mom. I respect her. She’s helpful, nice. She’s a tall, dark-skinned, peaceful woman. She brought us up. She made us grow up.

She cooks for us everything. She cleans the rooms for us, like she does a lot. And she buys us clothes and everything. All the food she makes is best.

Dad, he’s tough. The children do whatever he tells. And he’s nice. Like when you ask him for something, he says, “I’m not gonna give you,” but he always does. And he just says, like if you ask, “Can I get this one?” He say, “No, you’re not getting it” in a serious way, but then he will just give it to you.

Dad fixes cars. When he was in Africa, he used to be in construction. He used to build houses. Here he fixes cars. Now I can change a brake, I can change rotors, the wheels. I learn from him.

Story 13: I Teach

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I teach in another Muslim school in the U.S. There’s other little kids now growing up. They were born here some of them, and some of them come here but they never have been to Muslim school. So on Saturday and Sunday we just go to one place, and all the kids will come. My cousin used to be the teacher. Now he goes to college in Massachusetts. Now I teach them. I write for them. I tell them what’s right and what’s wrong. I want them to be good persons and to learn about their religion. I don’t want them to lose their religion.

I know a lot, so I want to share with them. And every parent they bring their kids so I teach them. Just one class, fifty of them. It’s a hard time, but you know kids when they don’t listen. I’ve been teaching them a long time.

I teach them the Muslim book, the Quran, that’s what we call it. I don’t know if you’ve seen that. It’s not just like you read in a book. You can open that book and read. But the Quran you cannot read it. It’s too hard, so you’ve got to learn.

The school is by one of my uncle’s house. You can teach in a mosque too, but it’s not a public place. If you got a big living room, everybody can come and will sit. It’s a very good place. I get respect.

Story 12: Prayer Rug

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We call it Sali. It means prayer rug, sali. That’s where you pray. You put it down. It’s in my room. Every time you pray, you get up there and you pray. You don’t put your feet on it when you’ve got your shoes. You don’t put your feet on the rug. We pray five times a day. In the morning, 6 in the morning, then 1:00, then 4:00, then 7:00, then 8:00. It’s important to me. You cannot just play on it or just sit there, or let people walk around it. So whenever I’m done praying with it, I wrap it. I put it away.

The little thing is there to hold the Quran, the book. It’s a Kutab.

And the Quran’s open. I open it. See how you got English in here? That’s the meaning. The English is telling you the meaning; it’s not like the meaning like the translation. I read the Arabic. I got another Quran. It’s in Arabic and English. You can read and English and Arabic.

That’s my Quran. It came with me. I came with it. I brought this from Africa. I think this one is the only thing I brought and the clothes.

Story 11: I Was Thinking I Was Going to Graduate

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If I had to stay in Kenya one more year, I was going to finish and get my diploma or what they give. When I was coming to United States, I was in seventh grade. If I had to stay in Kenya, in one year, I was going to finish school and graduate. When I came to the United States, I had to start seventh grade. When I was in Kenya, I was in seventh grade.

When I came here, they put me in seventh grade. Then I was in eighth grade. Then my Social Studies/English teacher said, “Okay. If you’re not studying hard, you just won’t go to high school.” I was thinking when I came here that I just had to go one more year and then I was going to graduate.

But it was different. I thought it was the same as in Kenya, but it wasn’t the same. I kept thinking, “This year’s my last year.” I was thinking high school was the college. I was like, “Hmm.” Then my friend said, “Okay. After this here, you go to ninth grade.” Then I said, “There’s nine grades? He was like, “You crazy. There’s ninth grade and tenth, eleventh, twelfth, then you go college.”

That was real good for me. I was extremely happy. I was taking more time and taking more courses, because I had more time and I had to take more classes that I didn’t take in Kenya.

Story 10: How We Became Friends

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I got friends in the U.S.

When I came to the U.S., I started in 7th grade. Three of students in classes were there from my country. They spoke my language. And they showed me everything. They made me understand how everything worked, because they came here before me.

They really explained the schedule. They were in all my classes. They walked me to my classes to show me which room it was. They showed me the way you work, the way my schedule looks, and what classes I got, and where to take the bus.

If the teacher asked me a question that I didn’t understand, my friends helped me to answer the question.

So they were telling me, and that’s how we become friends.

When I came to the U.S., I thought it was going to be same as Kenya. When I came here, I didn’t have no friends. Then I made friends in the school, but I was new in the country. I didn’t know where my house was located. When the class ended, everybody went home. I didn’t know where to go. In Kenya, friends go together after school. In the U.S., friends go different directions. They don’t really got time too. There’s nothing to do. I didn’t see all those things I can play with in Kenya.

Story 9: When Am I Going to School?

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I started school in December. You have to wait. You get everything ready to go school.

I was going to wait to go to school. My little brother and sister like just when we came, they went to school. But me, I was like, “When am I going school?” Everybody has go to school except me. Because my sister Amina, Raiss, they have to go to elementary, like 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade. I was going to 7th grade and my older sister, she started 9th grade. So I was the only one who was going into a middle school. I’m like, “My sister went to school. My little brother…” I’m like, “When am I going to school?” And it took one month to go to school.

Grant. Grant Middle School. It was a good school. I like that school.

Story 8: This Is a Quarter

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My friends took me to the store to buy something. They took me a lot of places. The first store in the U.S. I went to was Dollar Tree. After my friends took me, my brother, sister, and me went to the Dollar Tree store.

So we walked in Dollar Tree store. We bought something. I had $5. Then the shopkeepers gave me my change back. The quarters in the United States and Kenya, they look alike. They are the same size and they are both white. They are different. It is like one dollar in Kenya.

I was thinking that quarter was like same as Kenya. I was using as one dollar. Then my brother told me, “This is dollar. This is quarter. This is dime. This is nickel.” He was here before I came here.

Now I know.

Story 7: That Is Why We Came Here

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Why my parents didn’t live in Somalia? Because they were going to come to United States. That’s why they came to Kenya. To be able to come to United States, you’ve got to come to Kenya. Then that’s when you can come to United States.

They wanted to come here because they want us to be educated. They want us to get education. That’s why. In Somalia, it’s not a good education. So that’s why we came here.

And in Kenya, you have to pay for the school. I got four sisters, two big sisters, and so we are eight of us. Who’ll pay all that money for kids’ school and just for my mom and my dad? It’s a lot, so that’s why we came here.

Story 6: October 26, 2004

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Everybody all came together from Kenya. We all got interviewed and everything. If you’re in Africa, you can take like your uncle or your sister. You can say, “This my sister.” And she and you can come. They take each person one by one. They’ll ask questions. So if they take me, they ask me the same question they ask my mom or my sister. If I answer differently, then we’ve got to stay.

They asked like, “Who do you live with? What do you guys do? Where does your dad work? How old are you?” Or sometimes they just ask you, “Who’s supports you?” You know some people they try to bring other kids, and that’s not their kid. So when the kid say, “That’s not my dad,” then they will ask him, “Who’s the son?”

I felt sad leaving my friends. I was happy outside, but I was sad inside.

We went from Nairobi to Belgium. We took two airplanes. We took two days to get here. I don’t know where that place was, but we stopped somewhere. Then again we stopped in New York City. Then we got here. We took three airplanes.

Yeah, 2004, October 26. It was Tuesday. It was night out. It was 2:00. It was fall. I remember.

Some other people picked us to the airport. My mom’s sister son—he’s my brother—he came here before us. He lived here like three months before us. He was waiting for us at home. That morning when we got up, he came in the morning. I got up. I went to his house. We walked to his house. It was nice.

Story 5: “Arting” with Clay

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Most of the time, whenever we met each other, me and my friends, we go played soccer or played with the clay for “arting.” That’s what we did for fun. Soccer and clay, built something.

We played somewhere outside, near the lake. We did not do clay in our house because we’ll make a mess. Whenever we needed to play with the clay, we went outside to get it. We went in the lake to get the clay. There’s some clay, good clay so you can build something. We sat near the big trees and built stuff. We brought it home.

If you got all the glazes, you can glaze your stuff, whatever you build. I mostly, when I built it, I brought it home, and I fired it. Sometimes I got some glazing colors from school. Then, I glazed it at home.

We built it just for fun. We built some good stuff. I built a house with the clay and a lot of stuff, for example, animals, like lion, giraffe, or cars. Everybody can build his own stuff, but whenever you feel like working with others, you can build with your friends.

We did one thing together, my friend and me. We built a house, like eleven or twelve inches. We built a big house and we glazed it. And now it’s a birdhouse. We made it out of little bricks, and we put them together. We made a little door in the house, so the bird can get in and get out. And there’s another entrance near the top.

We tried colors. First we built a house, we put a lot of different colors to check if the birds come in. If the birds see those colors, they fly away because they’re scared of the colors. So first we test, we put a lot of colors. So it didn’t work out. The second one then we built it. And we put blue. We tried another color. Then we thought of building the house the birds’ colors: red and blue and black. So we tried those, so the birds didn’t scared of those colors. We put red and blue and black colors to paint the house. The birds wore red, blue, and black colors. The birds were scared with other colors, like light blue and orange.

It’s in Kenya. We placed it somewhere in the forest. We put some hard plastic over the top so when the rain comes, the water won’t go inside. We built it like you build a tent. That’s how it looks like. If the rain comes, it won’t smush the birdhouse.

Sometimes we went and looked at it. The birds were using it. It’s real cool. It was really cool. I hope you see it. Now the birds live there. I don’t know if it’s still there. It was still there when I was coming here.

Story 4: I Fell Off the Tree

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I’m a good climber. I can climb tree all day today. I remember I fell off the tree in Kenya. Once, it was a little funny though.

It was me and my little brother and my dad’s brother. He went to school, my dad’s brother. He’s 16 now. Then I climbed the tree, and I broke the tree. So when I was in the tree, I tried to pull it. The thing I was trying to pull, it was hard. I thought it was stuck. So what I was thinking was, “Okay. Hang onto it, and then jump.” When I held it, it wasn’t even holding nowhere. So when I just holding it, I just fell down. Then I was laying down one minute and then I got up. But I didn’t get hurt.

You know, it was really funny. My brother, my uncle, my dad’s little brother were there laughing at me. They still remember.

Story 3: All We Did Was Just Play Soccer

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I remember when I was seven years old. I grew up in Kenya. I saw people play soccer. We call it football. There’s nothing I made up, because I just did it how other people did it. I wasn’t really sure how I learned to play. I just saw myself playing soccer. In Kenya, children start playing soccer when they’re ready to play, about five years old.

My friends and me, all guys, all we were doing was just playing soccer. Playing soccer was the fun thing we were doing. Every time we got free time, we go play soccer. Every Friday, we don’t have school, so we go Friday morning. In the morning, it wasn’t so hot. When we were done playing soccer at 10:00 in the morning, we went home because at 11:00 it started getting hot. At 4:00 it started getting cooler, then we played soccer again. And Saturday and Sunday too we played soccer. But most of the time, whenever we met each other, me and my friends, we went to play soccer. All we did was just play soccer.

In Kenya, we weren’t really wearing cleats. We just played with our feet. If you had cleats you could not wear them. Most of the players, they didn’t have cleats. You cannot wear your cleats as you’ll hurt someone.

I played defense and I played forward. I like playing defense. I’m good in defense. I can run fast. I play forward too. I’m good at both. I actually can play anywhere in the field they put me. I play both sides. I’m good in side and defense. That’s my best position, but I can play the rest of the positions too.

After we were done playing soccer, we went to the river and we swam and we went home and took a shower. Everybody got ready for school on Monday. So, it was really fun! It was really fun to play soccer.

Story 2: They Teach Me to Be a Very Good Brother

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We got a Muslim school in Kenya. They teach me to be a very good brother. And my parents teach me too. So when I come home, they tell us not to do this, not to do this. When one parent calls me, I say yes or brother, say dad or mom, show respect, everything.

When you go to Muslim school, you’ve got to read your assignment. After you read your assignment, they’ll give you another assignment. And then when they give you another assignment, you’ve got to read another hour. Then the teacher will stand up and tell everybody, “Quiet!” Then they will tell all to be quiet. He tells them, “Don’t do this. Be a nice brother,” or just stuff so the students will follow the religion.

The school was big like the library, no shelves, nothing. Then everybody comes and sits on the floor. There’s a rug on the floor so everybody will sit and will take their book. If they don’t got the book, the teacher will get them a book. Then the teacher will write them in. They don’t write themselves. It’s not like school. The teacher will get up and write notes. The teacher will come and call one on one, write the assignment for him. Then they will sit back, and they will read. They will read out loud so the teacher will have to hear you reading or if you’re making a mistake or not. That’s how it is. You got to go in the morning, 6 in the morning to 11 a.m. Again you got to go back at 4:00, and you have to come back at 7:00, sometimes 8:00.

To be a student is when you go there, there’s no bad language, nothing. You go there, you do what you’re supposed to. You don’t touch others. You keep your hands to yourself. If you touch someone, the teacher will punish you. You don’t pick on people. There’s a lot of kids, like 100-something in one class. It’s not like class in a classroom. That’s why there’s a big place where everybody sits, different ages, male, females. And you cannot talk to others during class.

I went a lot. Since I was a kid until I left [for the] United States and until 2004.

Story 1: Memories of Somalia

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I born in Somalia, but I moved to Kenya when I was little. I can’t really tell much about Somalia. I was like two years old. But I can tell some.

I went back in Somalia when I was seven years old. We stayed there two to three months. Then we came back in Kenya. In Somalia, when I went back, my parents and me went to my grandfather’s house. So we stayed there for three months, and we go to the garden everywhere. It was good too.

In Somalia you can build your house, you know. You don’t have to pay for the land, because that’s your country. So, you can build your own house and you got that then. You grow corn, banana, mangos, all those. I go to the garden with my uncle. They have big mango trees. You can go in there. It’s our garden.

In Somalia, if I buy something, everybody can take it. The family can take it. So we can do everybody well in the family. Nobody says like, “That’s not yours.” You can just have it. But you just have to ask for it. You cannot just go and grab. You have to ask me for it, and then I tell you, “You can have it. You can have it.” You know?