Welcome Home!

The United States opened its arms to another citizen last week when LSS English student and Somalian refugee Canab Cali took the oath to become a U.S. citizen.

“I have life now,” Canab said, speaking after her English class at LSS. “I have a lot of opportunity.  I am too much happy!”


The glow on Canab’s face is contagious; her smile brightens the room. But Canab’s path to a new life in a new country has not been easy.

Her father died when she was very young, and the news meant more than the loss of a beloved parent. It also meant that Canab could not attend school.

“I never learned to read and write in my own language,” Canab said.

Life took many turns for the young girl. Somalia’s Civil War, which has been ongoing for 25 years, eventually forced her and her twin children to flee their home.  They eventually landed at a refugee camp in Turkey, where she gave birth to a third child.

In 2009, she received news that she and her baby could take refuge in the U.S. The twins, however, would have to stay behind.  They could join her later, once she was settled.  When she arrived in Sioux Falls, scared and nervous, she didn’t know any English.

Still, Canab had a dream and a plan. She was not deterred.  After two months of being in the U.S., she got a housekeeping job at the Holiday Inn.  “I didn’t have time to take English classes.  I was supporting myself and my baby girl.”

After five years, Canab’s twins joined her, and now she supports all three of her children by herself. She only found time to begin English classes about a year ago.

While her children are in school, she works 5 a.m. to noon at Kohl’s Department Store and then comes to LSS for two hours of English classes.

She also found time for Citizenship Classes and to take the Citizenship Exam.

When asked if she was nervous about the exam, she said, smiling, “I was too much scared, but the lawyer at LSS helped me.”

Canab now wants to continue her English lessons with hopes eventually to get her GED.

Welcome to the U.S., Canab!  We welcome you home! : )

Posted by Julie Boutwell-Peterson



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