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H.S. Class Teaches Somali Children Their Parents' Language

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the nation, with an estimated population of 32,000 people. WCCO has told you stories of how some young Somalis have struggled to adjust to life here, while others have even been lured back to Somalia to fight for terrorist groups.

Some young Somalis find they even have a language gap with their own parents who can't speak English. But one Minneapolis School is trying to change that with a Somali language and culture class.

Some of the students in one South High School classroom were born in the U.S. others came here as young children and have lost their Somali language skills.

"I miscommunicate with my parents sometimes we don't understand each other," junior Ayub Mohamed said.

Mohamed came to the U.S. from Somalia when he was 6. Because of the class he can now help translate for family members.

"My little sister, she asks me to translate for her between her and my mom," he said.

Minneapolis schools have about 2,800 Somali students. South High is the only school that offers a class in Somali.

At first, the teacher wasn't sure if any kids would show up. There are now 55 kids enrolled in Somali classes at South High.

Teacher Dahir Hassan believes learning the culture and the language will help students embrace both American and Somali traditions.

"It takes hard work to find out that both cultures can belong together they cannot oppose each other," Hassan said.

And for Ayub he hopes what he learns here will help him to one day go back and help his war torn and famine ravaged homeland.

"Right now, if I go back to Somalia I can't do anything because I am just a kid," he said. "But if I stay here, get well-educated and go back to Somalia, I can help and knowing the language would help."

The program at South High is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.

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