Somali Resource Teacher.: Becoming Minnesotan

Abdisalam Adam, displaying Somali objects and books, 2004.
  • Name - Abdisalam Adam
  • Age at interview - 38
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 06.24.2004
  • Somali Culture Family Day, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, 2004.

    We Are Here

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    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Contributions: How is America better off because of this group of immigrants?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    As more Somali children are entering the school systems in Minnesota, the teachers and school districts are trying to become more familiar with Somali culture. The parents of the immigrant children are encouraged to be more involved in their children’s education. However, parents often shy away from coming into the school or communicating with the teachers. For one thing, many parents are still struggling to learn English and may feel self-conscious or afraid that they will not be understood by the teachers. Many school districts, like St. Paul Public Schools, have created a job within the school district that focuses specifically on the needs of Somali students and parents. This support person who knows the Somali language, beliefs, and customs can provide support to classroom teachers and provide resources that allow the district to be better prepared to work with these young people.

    To learn more about Somali history and culture, visit our Somali Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Abdisalam Adam 12
    1:57 Minutes | 1.87Mb


    Narrator: Abdisalam Adam (AA)

    Interviewer: Sumaya Yusuf (SY)

    SY:  Where do you work and what is your job like?

    AA:  Yeah, I am a teacher with the St. Paul public schools. I’m an ESL [English as a Second Language]teacher. I have worked with the district for eight years now. I taught at three schools, two elementary and one middle school. But, this year, I’m teaching on special assignment, and my responsibility is as a Somali resource teacher. I prepare curriculum. I give the staff training. I gather resources and materials for teachers to use.

    SY:  How do you work with Somali teens?

    AA:  I work with Somali teens both as a teacher and as someone who is involved with the community; although, right now, I’m not in the classroom. When I was in the classroom, I worked with teens directly. I was able to talk to teachers about issues and provide insight as to what concerns teachers may have communicating with parents, helping the teens also with the services that they need, advocating for them, and letting the school system know about the needs. Now as a resource teacher, it’s more buildings may ask for my help. If there are issues, they will call me in and say, “This is going on. Can you help us?” I do that. Then in the community, I have been involved in Cedar Riverside where most Somalis live in and also in the Afton View apartments in the Highwood Hills area. There, I work with lots of teens on the weekends, in the evenings teaching and in some of the weekend schools, organizing events, summer camps. I do try to communicate with the youth and be accessible to them, answer their questions, organize activities for them.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To argue in support of someone or something.  (advocates, advocating, advocated)


    Verb:  To express or convey ideas, either through verbal or nonverbal methods.  (communicates, communicating, communicated)


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.


    Noun:  Established educational materials and exercises that follow a set pattern over a period of time.


    Noun:  Clear or deep understanding of a situation.


    Adjective:  Complicated.


    Noun:  Debate; controversy; problem.


    Adjective:  Worldly, as opposed to spiritual. 

    Noun:  Something used or made for the object of study.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 528