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Abdi Nor Iftin is a journalist, translator, and author living in Maine. But his writing journey didn’t start there. Abdi’s recent book, Call Me American, chronicles his life growing up in the African country of Somalia, and the transition from the peaceful pastoral place it was to the war-torn area it became. One of the escapes he found early on was learning English through American movies, which eventually led him to master the language well enough to become a legit secret war correspondent for outlets like National Public Radio and others.

After fleeing to Kenya to further escape the violence and military recruitment, he earned a green card to the U.S. through the Diversity Visa Lottery. Here, he was interviewed on This American Life about the program and his life as a refugee, and the conversation touched so many people that he eventually came to write about it in his memoir, which debuted earlier this year. When he isn’t touring parts of the U.S. as a respected and published author, Abdi works with the Somali refugee program in Maine, serving as a translator, to help others find similar opportunities to what he’s been able to find through his own storytelling and writing career.

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