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Client Story: Ahmed

Proud to be Part of the People

With his pen poised to fill in his choice for Minnesota governor, Ahmed entered a voting booth for the first time. When he exited into the autumn air, he proudly pressed a round, red sticker onto his shirt.


“It said, ‘I vote’ and I wore it,” Ahmed said with a smile. “I voted for the first time and it was amazing. I was proud to be part of the people.”


Minnesota became home for Ahmed once he left Somalia in 2014. After a few years of working, dreaming of furthering his education and meeting a woman named Fatouma, a friend told him about the International Institute of Minnesota. He completed his citizenship application with the Institute’s help and eagerly went home to share the news with Fatouma, who had become his wife.

“I told her, ‘I found a place that really cares about people. Not only just cares, but they’re seeing the future of this generation. That people come here and are changing their life to wonderful and new ways, to find jobs and opportunities and educations,” Ahmed said.

Fatouma, a teacher originally from Djibouti, helped him study. After many months of quizzing him, Ahmed passed the citizenship test and interview. He naturalized during an emotional ceremony in the summer of 2021.

“It was wonderful. It was like a dream come true,” Ahmed said. “I always had dreamed to choose who I want to vote for, who is speaking for the people and to have more opportunities. That was my dream.”

As he worked to realize that goal, Ahmed simultaneously worked to improve his career. He enrolled in the Institute’s Dietary Aide training while working full-time as a security officer and being a new dad. He enjoyed learning so much that he enrolled next in the Institute’s Nursing Assistant Training.

Ahmed, who speaks three languages, now works as a certified nursing assistant with memory care patients — a perfect fit for his calm demeanor and warm smile.


“I always love to take care of people. I learn a lot about life. My dream is becoming a nurse also,” he said.


“Always, me and my wife talk about progressing our future educations. Hopefully, I definitely go back to school and see more opportunities.”

Ahmed and Fatouma keep setting their family goals higher. As they raise their two young daughters, aged 3 and almost 1, they’re staying connected with the International Institute of Minnesota. Most recently, they met with an Institute financial coach to learn about home buying.

Fatouma, a high school substitute teacher who speaks four languages, plans to make use of the citizenship studying she helped Ahmed with. “I hope to become a citizen in 2024,” she said.

Both value education above all else and plan to raise their daughters with that belief as well. Though they speak to their daughters mostly in English, they also speak Somali and Arabic to them.

“Yes, as they grow, they will learn so many other languages,” Ahmed said. “And also the language of opportunities.”

Man and child reading books

For more than 100 years, the International Institute of Minnesota has empowered New Americans to achieve self-sufficiency and become valued members and leaders in their community.

Inside our 2022 Annual Report, we share stories of people from Somalia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Vietnam, some of the over 3,000 New Americans we served in the last year alone. These stories of resilience and renewal continue to unfold every day, right here in Minnesota. You will also find our financials as well as our immense gratitude to donors and volunteers who help fulfill our mission each year.