The Challenges I Had In High School
Excerpts from the writings of Abdikadir Mohammed, also known as “Nini”

After coming to Louisville, I waited almost a month to go to school. I couldn’t wait. I was really in a hurry to start school because I wanted to learn and speak English. While waiting, I was in ESL classes at Kentucky refugee ministries. They prepared me for school by teaching me a few things that I could use at school. For example: How to say my name. The first school I went to was Shawnee High School. The first day I attended school I was really scared because everybody was taller and bigger than me and I didn’t know anybody there. I wondered why I was in school with these big people who look liked my dad and had the same body weight as my dad. I thought they sent me to the wrong school.

When I got back from school, I told my dad that everybody in school was bigger than me. He told me the only important thing was for me to go to school and learn and not to worry who is in school with you. However, my dad never believed me I would learn anything at school. He thought I was going to be dumb and start to hangout with some students who skip school. I couldn’t read and write when I was a freshman in high school. Every time my dad tells me to read a paper for him I couldn’t read it. He had to call somebody else to read it for him. I was so frustrated when that happened and didn’t know what to do, but to step up for my family. After that I didn’t do anything else, not even soccer, for my first year in high school. Every day I came home from school and did my homework and read books. However, I went to ACC (Americana Community Center) to get help with reading and writing skills. I didn’t know anything about ACC. My friend Magan and his brother Noor were the people who introduced me to ACC. They went there before I came to America. And I started going there every day when I was freshman in high school. I was one of the best ESL (English as a Second Language) students they had at Americana Community Center. Some of the people there enjoyed helping me and I always behaved well. In two months I was better in my writing and reading skills. I was the number one student that had improved in two months that year. The ESL classes I had at school really helped me.

Shawnee High had students from many different countries but we didn’t speak the same languages, therefore, it was difficult for us to talk to each other and work together. However, we had to speak English to work together. I had teachers who really helped me during my first year of school. That year of school was wonderful. I loved the subjects we had. The teachers were organized and taught us many things. I liked my teachers and I will never forget them. The teachers respected me for who I was and I respected them. I also respected my classmates.  

At the end of the school year, I thought I was going to stay in the same school but they told me I had to attend another school because that was just to prepare me for a higher level. A week later they told me I would go to Waggener High School. I didn’t really know where Waggener was, but I was happy to go there.