My Somali family: Six years together.

A Giving + Learning narrative: I hope readers share their stories.

Kevin Brooks

On May 30th, 2008, I nervously punched in the apartment number on the security keypad. I could barely hear the ringing over my pounding heart. A male voice said “Hello?” and I said “Hello. This is Kevin with Giving + Learning. I’m here to work on English.” The voice on the other end spoke Somali, but not to me, and then hung up. I think I tried again, but I know I didn’t make it in until the translator arrived.

Inside the apartment, I sat on the floor with the Giving + Learning volunteer coordinator, a Somali-speaking case worker, and Faizil and Ardo, the Somali couple I had volunteered to work with. Everything, from hello to my name to my reason for being here, had to be translated. I started to panic: how I could possibly teach English to a couple who spoke no English! They had been in Fargo…

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