Abdi Nor Iftin, author of the memoir “Call Me American,” is the next featured speaker for the Centennial Speakers Series at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work.
“A Refugee’s Journey: A Conversation with Abdi Nor Iftin” is scheduled for Thursday, April 8, 2021, at 6 p.m. The free event will be broadcast via Zoom, and advance registration is required.
In “Call Me American,” Iftin shares the story of his survival from childhood in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, during the 1990s. Through famine and war, he managed to survive recruitment by Somalian soldiers and learned English by watching action movies, fleeing to Kenya and coming to the United States through his entry in the U.S. Diversity Visa Program lottery. He has lived in Maine since 2014 and became an American citizen as a 34-year-old in 2020.
Today, Iftin is a radio journalist and public speaker. His work has been featured by CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, among other media outlets.
“Abdi Nor Iftin dreamed of a new life in America as he struggled to escape war and poverty in Somalia,” said Gary Bowen, dean of the UNC School of Social Work. “His story is one of immeasurable resilience and hope — it is the story of countless immigrants and refugees seeking safety and the American dream.”
Josh Hinson, clinical assistant professor at the School, will moderate the event. Hinson directs the UNC Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. Audience members will learn more about the Initiative, which provides refugees in North Carolina with mental health services as they transition to life in the United States.
Graduate students Oyediya Akaronu and Lydia Zakia-Fahey will co-moderate a question-and-answer session after the presentation. Akaronu is a final-year student in the 3-Year MSW Winston-Salem Program, and Zakia-Fahey is a first-year student in the 2-Year MSW Program.
This event is part of the School’s Centennial Speakers Series, which connects the School and its broader community with some of the nation’s most inspirational leaders in social justice and antiracism. The Centennial Speakers Series is a signature initiative of the UNC School of Social Work Centennial Celebration (2020-2022).