Call Me American

Welcome to “A Handful of Hope” where we have heart centered conversations with heart centered people.
Today’s conversation is: “Call Me American,” featuring Abdi Nor Iftin

Call Me American
Call Me American Abdi Nor Iftin

We cover:
* Finding hope in orange juice
* What is the American Dream
* Dealing with the perception of being less than human
And much more

About Abdi Nor Iftin

When the civil war in Somalia began, Abdi Nor Iftin was five; he and his brother became the sole providers for the family while they also attended a madrassa. Amidst the daily shelling and the famine, Abdi had one escape: American movies and music.
At neighborhood showings of Rambo, Commando, and The Terminator, Abdi learned of America, and taught himself English, and began to dream of a life in the United States.
In his memoir Call Me American, Iftin recounts his harrowing, extraordinary, and uplifting story. His love of western culture and music earned him the name “Abdi American.” This became a liability when Islamic extremism took hold of Somalia.
Evading conscription by al-Shabaab while secretly filing stories for NPR under penalty of death, he stayed in Somalia until he had no choice but to flee. He smuggled himself into Kenya, where a different but grinding life of hopelessness awaited. He spent days hiding silently in an apartment from raids by Kenyan police, once passing time reading memoirs and watching more movies. And then, a stroke of incredible luck: he won the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Call Me American

Now a proud and legal resident of Maine, Abdi is advocating for the refugee rights he is also a community navigator. He’s on the advising council for Refugee International with some of America’s most distinguished diplomats and prominent international human rights leaders. Abdi was a TexdAmoskeag 2019 speaker.
On January 17th 2020, Abdi’s long life dream came true after he was sworn in as a naturalized American citizen in Portland, Maine. For the first ever, Abdi is voting in the US elections and exercising his American rights, one which many Americans take for granted. But for Abdi it is liberating to have a voice in America.
Today’s America and the travel/immigration ban worry Abdi, a Muslim, a former refugee and a displaced person. Abdi’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid portrait of the desperation refugees seek to escape and a reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.

Stay connected with Abdi

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