Bridging the culture gap for immigrants in America #JYSEP

Bridging the culture gap for immigrants in America #JYSEP


– When I was in my home country. I used to love my family
and my close friends, the people I grew up with
whom I consider family. I would’ve done
anything for them but I never thought
about serving strangers, helping a stranger
in the street. Somebody I’m not ever
gonna see again in my life. Somebody I don’t expect
anything from him. – I mean Maine is the
whitest state in the U.S. And very Catholic. Around 15 years ago in
2001, Somali refugees started coming to Lewiston. Then there’s cheap
housing there, the whole downtown was
empty lots, empty apartments and they just started
moving in and once you spread the word in
the Somali community, African communities these
just go really fast. And they keep coming. Every week there are
new Somali families that come to Lewiston. But then the Congolese, and
the Rwandan and Burundis, I think this is more
in the last five years that they started coming. There’s maybe between five
and eight thousand immigrants for a 35,000 inhabitant. – I would say the biggest
challenge was leaving my family ’cause they’re the
people I’ve been living with my entire life. – I struggled a lot at school ’cause I didn’t
know the language. I came here when I was 10. I’d never been to school so
I started at sixth grade. So I really had to overcome
learning the language. Trying to fit in with others. – Getting to environment
where you don’t know anybody, you got language barriers,
you can not ask a teacher what you don’t understand,
school barriers also, ’cause I was doing
very well in school and from one day to another
you’re going to school where you don’t understand what
the teacher is telling you. I think it affected me
mentally in the way, I wasn’t feeling comfortable. – It’s harder. It’s much harder for them
to adjust to a life here that is not a village setting. Also if you’ve been
in a refugee camp, you didn’t necessarily work
or you didn’t go to school. So there are a lot of youth
center that flourished and support system
in the community. So themselves have been
creating organizations to support their own
community creating programs for the youth like soccer,
soccer tournaments in the summer or English classes for adults. There’s no way back
for these families and what they crave is a
shelter and a safe space and I think they
found it in Lewiston and they’re very
grateful for Lewiston. So this program really helps
me get that leadership skills and by helping the community and we actually work together. It’s really comfortable
working with them. We get to talk whatever we want. They were talking
about spiritual stuff and I didn’t know what it was. So I wanted to know, praying
together, I really liked that ’cause in my religion we pray
every day five times a day so praying is really fun to me. – We read stories
and in those stories our youth will learn, the characters in these
stories have wonderful virtues such as being patient,
loving, forgiving, which will internally
reflect their life and see how the youth
will use what they learned from these stories in
their own personal lives. – They talk about God,
there’s only one God. They have their own prophet
but the words are similar to our same prophet Muhammad and they’re really similar. The words are, it’s like He copied from Him
or they’re really similar. So I really like that. – We live in the real life. Can you imagine we do every day like if they need something,
if you need something, we actually do together. We go to shops together,
we go to play together. We go to the movie. – It does not matter
where you’re from, where you’ve been,
or what race you are, what religion you are,
it’s about the fact that you wanna help others in
your community and the world. – When they come here
they see we pray together and that we consult
together and I think for me they call me like a brother, can you imagine they call
me, they don’t call me friend but they call me like brother. I’m just like a
brother for them. – Service is really little
thing you do for people. It doesn’t have
to be a big thing. – Service can mean many things, it could be a simple act
like cleaning the park which might not be that simple, to actually planning
a big art craft to give to a mother
who lost her son and how beautiful is that,
that they were thinking with compassion
about someone’s pain. Or it can be to
actually be a mentor for a group of
younger adolescents. – It’s all about service
and that’s why the Baha’i in the community
is very important. It’s something I cherish
therefore I wanna share what these people who
are Baha’i showed me with the people in my community.

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