StoryCorps: Somali Refugee Family Reflects On Making A Life In The U.S. Aden Batar directs a refugee resettlement program in Utah. It is the same organization that helped resettle his family 25 years ago, when they fled a harrowing civil war in Somalia.
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'We Are Americans': Somali Refugee Family Reflects On Making A Life In The U.S.

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'We Are Americans': Somali Refugee Family Reflects On Making A Life In The U.S.

'We Are Americans': Somali Refugee Family Reflects On Making A Life In The U.S.

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  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Friday, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. Aden Batar had just graduated law school when war broke out in Somalia in 1990. He and his young family were forced to flee to escape violence. They came to the United States and were among the first Somalis resettled in Utah.

Aden and his son Jamal came to StoryCorps to talk about those early days.

JAMAL BATAR: How did you get by when you first arrived?

ADEN BATAR: I got my first job in a factory - started at $4.25. That was the minimum wage back then, but I accepted because I wanted to work. Life was very tough. Some days, I wasn't seeing you and your brother because when I go to work it's, you know, late in the afternoon. And I come home, you're all sleeping. And then I'll go to school.

J BATAR: What were the toughest parts of adjusting to life in Utah?

A BATAR: The food was different, the weather - and you don't have friends. And also we didn't have a place to gather and pray.

J BATAR: Were you ever worried about me?

A BATAR: Always.

J BATAR: It's always just a juggling act. At school you're somebody. But then you come home, you're another person because of those two distinct cultures, two distinct languages. And I can remember, the day 9/11 happened, I was in fifth grade. And somebody threw a milk carton at me, said you f-ing terrorist, what are you doing here?

A BATAR: Are those things worse now?

J BATAR: I get a lot of questions, you know? Where you from? Oh, I'm from Utah. No, where are you really from?

A BATAR: I understand. I took a lot of crap, but we just need to look ahead.

J BATAR: Yeah. I've learned how to deal with it.

A BATAR: I lived in this community close to half of my life. You were 2 years old when you came here. So I want people to look at us as human beings who went through a lot and survived; that we're a part of them.

J BATAR: That we're American.

A BATAR: We are Americans. And we're not going anywhere.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS ZABRISKIE'S "NIRVANAVEVO")

INSKEEP: That was Aden Batar and his son Jamal. Aden is now director of Refugee Resettlement for Catholic Community Services of Utah, which was the same organization that resettled his family. Their interview will be archived along with hundreds of thousands of others at the Library of Congress.

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