“I like working with the people. I like interacting with the communities. I like making a lot of friends. I like helping.”
After Abdi and his father, brother, and sister were displaced from their home in Somalia, they lived in Uganda before coming to Canada in 2019. After they arrived, Abdi discovered an enlightening element among transportation. Although he identifies the bus station as his unsafe place, asserting that it is because of the threat of COVID-19, his discomfort really speaks to his desire to build an interactive community. After meeting a kind citizen at Superstore who offered to help him with rides to and from the store, Abdi said, “When we are walking we learn a lot of things. When we are in the car we don’t learn.” By solely relying on transportation services, Abdi locates a form of isolation; rather than existing in autopilot or resigning to automated methods, he shares that his experience in Red Deer is enriched when his feet touch the ground. By choosing to walk, Abdi showcases his desire to engage with Red Deerians, a goal that is emulated in his comfortable place, downtown, as he can talk with people on the street.
Abdi believes that isolation serves as a barrier for becoming a part of the city, and he believes that immigrants could use consistent social engagement to “[w]ash their brain” of their worries, to be reminded that they have a place in Red Deer. After working as an interpreter in Uganda, he recognized the collaborative power in conversations; despite the focus on learning the English language in Alberta, his sentiment stems from connection over perfect grammar. Once Abdi identified a need for interpreters within the Somali community in Red Deer (“Sometime you can see a whole family and they don’t have someone who can help them and who can understand the language.”), he applied with the hope of filling that gap, of building opportunities for continued conversations and supportive communities. As he waits for such a chance, he volunteers in CARE English classes to maintain ongoing education and relationships: “It’s good learn a lot of people, don’t fear. Make conversation whoever you meet. Talk to them.”