Ayan Omar understands the power and importance of one’s name. She encourages other immigrants to accept their names and feel pride in their life stories.
Born in Mogadishu, Ms. Omar and her family fled their home due to the escalating violence of the Somali Civil War. She ended up in Kenya where she waited for her uncle in Atlanta to sponsor her family. Her father fell ill and her eldest brother was wounded, putting even more stress on the family. After three years in Kenya, Ayan and her family moved to the United States.
After she arrived in Georgia, Ms. Omar started kindergarten. Her father emphasized education and had Ayan read the dictionary if she didn’t have any homework. While she studied, her family struggled. They lived off of food stamps, and some of her brothers dropped out of school to help the family.
Because of her positive experiences in school, Ayan decided to become a teacher and went to college at St. Cloud State University. Moving from a predominately black community to rural Minnesota was a difficult transition, but Ayan has made the most of her experiences. Currently, she works as a language arts teacher at Tech High School. She and her daughter live in St. Cloud, MN.
Originally published in Green Card Voices. Learn more at their site www.greencardvoices.com