(Editor’s note: This is the third installment of the Community Wisdom series produced by students in Dave Engen’s Community Storytelling class at Minnesota State University. A short introduction by the students is followed by excerpts from their interview with the subject.)

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Ahmed (Jaffer) Mohamed is a man of many parts: husband, father and community leader. His life story is an inspiring one and a lesson on how life, with its unexpected twists and turns, can lead to beautiful destinations — if you make the most of it.

He works as team coordinator at the Minnesota Council of Churches.

— Rekereke Evuleocha and Ryuto Hashimoto

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If I tell you the truth, being a refugee is not a choice. I never thought one day I will go to the United States and live in this country. You feel fear to stay and remain in the country you used to live, the country you love. If I felt safe in my country, I shouldn’t be here.

When I came to the United States, the one thing that was in my mind always was how I can achieve some kind of degree. How I can change the job I have and move up. I can achieve that American Dream.

I elevated myself from scratch and gained some kind of achievement when it comes to education. What I like about America is the people. I mean, if you think critically and work hard, this is the country where you can achieve a lot of things. It depends on the way you work. It depends on the way you think. This is the country where you can do it.

Yes, I miss Somalia a lot. Number one, I miss my family. If you are away from your family for years and years and years, nothing can be worse than that. And there were years and years I could not go back to Somalia. I could not. Now I have that privilege. I’m a citizen. I can go anytime I want. I can travel anytime I want.

I started in 2018 working with the Minnesota Council of Churches as what they call community navigator and employment counselor. The organization serves two big populations, refugees or asylees.

Now, originally I was a refugee. I know what they go through. I was lucky when I came to this country because I understand the language, I speak English. That’s one of the benefits I had. But many of them may not have that skill.

I am very excited to support our clients who are trying to change their lives. I enjoy helping and doing something, a service they need and preparing and providing something they may not be able to do by themselves. So by afternoon when I go home, I feel that at least I did something. I served people and made a difference in their lives. That’s the way I feel. I’m very happy and enjoy what I’m doing.

There is always a challenge in life. Life changed overnight for me. Sometimes you feel happy, sometimes not. But get ready to face the challenge of life always, wherever you go. Then you learn things and experience things and it’s all part of success. Then something easy comes up.

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