Faiza Haji Kenya
“I was blessed to come to an area where it’s diverse,” she said. “I’ve never been in an environment where everyone is so welcomed.” Despite her status as a refugee, she doesn’t feel excluded. “Here, there’s so much emphasis on being from a different country or having different ideologies or just different beliefs from the norm,” she said. Hajis embraces this attention. “I like coming from somewhere,” she said. “I love having a culture. I love having a different perspective than some people do. I love being Somali. I love being Kenyan. I love having a different language, something that I can hold close.” Though Haji’s background differs from many Decatur students, she has not felt discriminated against. “I haven’t ever been looked at a certain way or treated differently because of my religion, culture or ethnicity, and I really appreciate that,” she said. Haji is grateful to live in Decatur. Some of her friends moved to “places where you could obviously see racial and ethnic tensions.” “What I like about Decatur is that the people here want to learn about different places,” she said. “They want to broaden their perspectives and understand different people.” She acknowledges this acceptance and interest may be limited to Decatur but hopes for greater strides towards equality and “awareness of the situation.” “I would really like this country to embrace diversity and immigration,” she said. “There’s just so much tension in America about immigration. I don’t understand because this country’s supposed to be built on immigration and just diversity. “Like everyone that lives here isn’t just one people. It’s a variety of people who’ve made up this society and country, so I don’t understand why one person can say who or who cannot enter the country. I don’t think that’s fair at all.” She also believes people should not be denied access based on religion, specifically Islam. “To me, I think a lot of people are scared of Muslims, and not only because of recent controversial stuff that’s happened,” she said. “I would just like to clear up the fact that Muslims are not terrorists.” Because of the prejudices Haji experiences Haji believes people should be educated on the refugee crisis because people “can’t based on her religion, she hopes to stay openjust make claims on something they don’t know about. [Education] is important to minded by exploring cultures and ethnicities me because someone is making an assumption about you. They don’t know you and apart from her own. they’re doing it based on stuff they’ve heard in the media.” Photo by Emmie Poth-Nebel
unior Faiza Haji grew up in Dadaab, Kenya, home of the world’s largest refugee camp. She came to the U.S. in Nov. 2005. Before Haji was born, her parents moved to Kenya to escape the Somali Civil War. Tribal tension in Somalia remained high, and the country was unsafe. Since she lived briefly in the camp at a young age, Haji’s memories are foggy. Her memories of arriving in the U.S. are clearer. An American agency assisted in bringing Haji’s family and other refugees to the U.S. “The reason why we moved was because we thought America had better opportunities,” she said. “Just to live the American dream.” Like Hassan, Haji lived in Clarkston before moving to Decatur. She moved to Decatur in 2010.
34 CARPE DIEM • December 2016
The student magazine of Decatur High School's convergence media program