Abdi Nor Iftin

Author, radio journalist, refugee advocate, interpreter

Yarmouth, ME

In his memoir, Call Me American, Abdi Nor Iftin recounts his harrowing, extraordinary, and uplifting journey from Somalia, talking about immigration, being a refugee, and his new life in America.

Abdi was five when the civil war in Somalia began and attended a madrassa (school) while providing for his family. Amidst the daily shelling of the war and the famine, he had one escape: American movies and music. He learned about America, taught himself English (from watching those American movies), and began to dream of a life in the United States. Evading conscription by al-Shabaab while secretly filing stories for NPR under penalty of death, he stayed in Somalia until he had no choice but to flee to Kenya. While, there, he says he had an incredible stroke of luck, and he won the Diversity Visa Lottery in 2014. His story was chronicled on “This American Life” in this episode: “Abdi and the Golden Ticket.” He’s on the path to U.S. citizenship this year.

Abdi travels and speaks throughout the U.S. to champion the cause of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).