Interview for

Rahma Duale

7/29/2020

Interviewed By:

Gigi Pacheco

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 32:35
Summary

After leaving Somalia to escape the war, Rahma and her family lived in Ethiopia and Japan before finally settling in the United States. She describes her relationship to Islam in terms of culture and faith, and recalls the language barriers and new cultural norms she experienced throughout the process of resettlement.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Rahma Duale

Date: July 29, 2020

Location: Aurora, Colorado (Ms. Duale); Castle Pines, Colorado (Gigi, Interviewer)


Summary: After leaving Somalia to escape the war, Rahma and her family lived in Ethiopia and Japan before finally settling in the United States. She describes her relationship to Islam in terms of culture and faith, and recalls the language barriers and new cultural norms she experienced throughout the process of resettlement.

Topics: Childhood, Cultural adjustment, Culture, Education, Family, Future, Gender, Immigration Process, Language, Migration, Pandemic, Places of worship, Race, Religious Identity, Religious Practice, Tradition, War


Outline

Section 1: 00:03 - 04:14

  • War - When she was about five or six years old, Ms. Duale and her family left Somalia and resettled in Ethiopia to escape the war. She remembers having a more comfortable lifestyle in Ethiopia than she had had in Somalia.

  • Religious Practice - As a Muslim woman, faith was an integral part of Ms. Duale’s upbringing. For example, except for weekends, she had to go study the Quran after school.

  • Childhood - Ms. Duale’s favorite memory from childhood is the Eid al-Fitr, which is a yearly celebration of the end of fasting for Muslim.

Section 2: 04:14 - 09:02

  • Immigration Process - When Ms. Duale arrived in the United States, she was surprised by the variety of races due to the fact that Africa is mostly black.

  • Cultural adjustment - Among the things that Ms. Duale had to adjust to, was freedom of speech. Unlike in Africa where introvertedness is praised, it was normal in America to be outspoken.

  • Education - In school, Ms. Duale had a difficult time making friends because she did not speak English.

  • Language - It was through language that Ms. Duale made one of her first friends in the States. Her friend, a fellow Somalia, spoke to her in their language, hence their connection.

  • Places of Worship - One way Ms. Duale and her family have sustained their culture by going to the mosque for prayer.

  • Culture -  Fortunately, where Ms. Duale and her family settled in the United States,  there is a great presence of Somalis who belong to her tribe, the Ogaden tribe. Thus, they were able to quickly form a community. The Somali families who had come earlier even galvanized and made a financial contribution to Ms. Duale’s family.

Section 3: 09:02  - 15:47

  • Language - Ms. Duale highlights an interesting difference between her Somali language and English - the former has particular vocabulary that is used for respect whereas the latter does not.

  • Religious Identity - Ms. Duale was encouraged not to wear her hijab by her American peers because she now had “freedom”; though, she reflects that by wearing it nonetheless and defending her decision whenever it was necessary, she grew stronger in her faith.

  • Religious Identity - Ms. Duale’s mother was once verbally harassed; someone called her a “terrorist.” Ms. Duale believes that this was because her mother looks like a MiddleEastern woman - she is visibly Muslim (she wears a hijab) and is lighter skinned.

  • Culture - Ms. Duale feels more comfortable in the United States than in Somalia, her homeland, because she has the freedom to express herself. She uses her voice to discourage harmful stereotypes.

Section 4: 15:47 - 24:08

  • Race - Ms. Duale supports the Black Lives Matter movement and is grateful that it has finally gained the deserved attention.

  • Cultural adjustment - Besides living in Somalia and Ethiopia before moving to the United States, Ms. Duale and her family also briefly lived in Japan. She had to learn the languages of each of these countries, and accordingly adjust her mannerisms so as to assimilate.

  • Childhood - In Ethiopia, Ms. Duale’s family was considered wealthy because they had a large house and servants. Her friends, in comparison, were much poorer.

  • Language - While living in Japan, Ms. Duale used her “broken English” to communicate with her teacher and then her teacher, to communicate to her peers.

  • Migration - For Ms. Duale, moving around constantly was hard because she had to leave her friends behind.

Section 5: 24:08 -

  • Future - Ms. Duale hopes that her college degree  will enable her to support herself, her family and those who are destitute back at home, in Somalia.

  • Religious Practice - Ms. Duale continues to practice Islam by, for instance, praying five time per day and avoiding engagement in haram activities like smoking.

  • Gender/Culture - Ms. Duale consciously takes advantage of free speech in America because she knows that if she were in Africa, she would not have the liberty since women’s opinions are inferior to men’s.

  • Cultural adjustment - Although Ms. Duale has adjusted herself to the American culture, she retains her Somali culture by, for example, wearing traditional Somali clothing.