Do you believe many immigrants have found the safety and life they dreamed about surrounding countries? Somalia used to be a peaceful country with many resources before the country was ravaged by the civil war in 1990. Somali people had strong religious beliefs and spoke one language. Then the civil war started and Somalians spread out around the world in various countries. According to Staying off the Bottom of the Melting Pot: Somali Refugees “When the war happened and there was no more infrastructure to provide that education, America became one, of a few places, became an accessible place to go and get a quality education for their kids” (n.d. pg.100). For example, some families relocated to the United States and received free education for their children and employment. This was very essential for the immigrant families because the parents did not have money to pay for their children’s education.
The biggest issue Somali immigrants faced was holding on to their tradition and values while assimilating to life in the United States. The main challenge for families were sending their children to school at a young age and the children losing their native language because they now speak English. This also led to a huge misunderstanding between the child and parents since the parents did not speak the English language. Since the parents come here as adults, it was difficult for them to learn English because they did not have the time to attend school since they were busy working and taking care of their kids.
Another problem kids that are born in the United States have difficulty communicating to their relatives back home in Africa. Going back to their home land could either be exciting or could be stress. There was a huge misunderstanding when kids forget their native language, and other kids make fun of them. It is normal to make fun of people in Somalia but in America people take it seriously and it is rude. Unfortunately, it also won’t be more fun because the relatives don’t speak English and therefore makes communication with their relatives very difficult. what should be a remarkable summer meeting relatives turns into a huge communication barrier and ultimately turns into nothing. From personal experience it can also be disheartening when you have to translate what your son says so his father can understand as they unfortunately do not speak a common language. I strongly believe that once a child loses their first language it can be frustrating for them because they can no longer feel connected and engaged in a conversation when they meet their relatives who don’t speak English.
For the immigrant Somali family, it is very important to hold on to their Islamic religion. One very important aspect of their religion is to pray five times a day. When kids go to public school, it is hard for them to pray on time because there is no place for “Salah” or prayer and by the time they arrive home, it is too late for praying. For example, when my kids go to school, they have expressed to me that they feel embarrassed to pray “Duhur” in school in front of other students. It is difficult for them (parents ) to pass on to their children. Whereas back home in Africa, during Salah time everyone went to the “Mosque” to pray five times a day. Also student’s schools had assigned areas to pray so there was no excuse.
Somalian Immigrants face many issues when they come to a new country because of wearing a “Hijab”. Everyone has their own religion and beliefs. For example coming to the United States and dressing head to toe it is scary to some cultures so a young generation coming to the United States or Born; started dressing the way other cultures dress because they do not want to look different while others are challenging and fighting with their religious beliefs. Accordance with their religious beliefs, but a recent survey by the “Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) revealed that 42 percent of Muslims with children in K-12 schools report bullying of their children because of their faith, often because of wearing a hijab or other clothing associated with their religion”. In my own experience, I felt the same way because of how I dressed. I remember summer time, it was too hot and I used to cover head to toe. Sometimes students asked me “Don’t you feel hot” and I replied to them, It is normal to me and I practice when I was little so it does not b me. When I say that they laughed at me or they may say bad words. If you enquire from immigrants as to the reasons behind their coming to America, their reply will be from different perspectives such as work or education. However, frequently unnoticed is the role of the environment.
Some of the challenges faced by immigrants is the climate differences. For instance, the majority of the countries in Africa is summer throughout the year, whereas America has different seasons of the year. This has huge impact on Somalis who has never experienced winter weather back in their country. The consequences encountered include slippery roads where one fall and may even experience severe injury such as hand break or fractures. Specially, this greatly affects the senior members who are forced to go to work or school at such weather.
Moreover, some immigrants get health issues like frostbite, hypothermia, heart problems and so forth. On the other hand, doctors prescribe medications for others such as going to countries with hot weather to get sunshine vitamin. Thus, this causes burden for the immigrant to pay for the extra costs like ticket or living expenses. According to Brealey (2002) discovered that, “The worst part about being sick abroad is not what it does to the body, but what it does to the mind. In most cases expatriates manage to cope with the physical discomfort, but they struggle with the emotional and psychological effects of getting sick overseas’.(p.11)
Just like language barriers, immigrants have problems with transportation. The fact is that, getting a license is not easy since it requires certain procedures to be done in order to get exempted. However, it’s challenging for illiterate people to get license since the person ought to sit for the exam need to have a clear understanding about the signs of the road and should as well be good at English language. In some cases, a whole family may share one car, the guys will keep the car and leaving it up to the ladies to find on their own. Therefore, it makes life harder for many people with a variety of needs to rely on one vehicle. A mother may need to drop her kids to school, go to work and sometimes attend appointments. Hence, public transportation is not a good choice for a variety of reasons.