From Leela Pathiyal
Zeinab Kahin is a Child and Youth Worker at The Somali Center for family services. In this episode, we spoke to Zeinab who shared their experience of navigating Canada as a second generation immigrant.
Zeinab’s parents had immigrated from Somalia due to a civil unrest that was taking place. Her parents had seen that leaving Somalia was the only option to ensure that their future children will be safe, and they had chosen Canada as it seemed the most stable with the most opportunities. Zeinab describes that as a child of immigrants, she faces conflicts between her Canadian culture and her Somali heritage. She describes that because she has spent the majority of her life in Canada, her identity often leans on the Canadian side; however, she still wants to be able to stay in touch with her Somali roots to ensure she passes the heritage down to her family. She is hoping to achieve this by continuing to work on her language and one day return back to Somalia.
Despite feeling a strong sense of belonging to Canadian culture. Growing up within wasn't always easy. Zeinab describes that being a visual minority also positions her to be a target when certain political events occur. This then leads her sense of belonging- to be coupled with a sense of “otherness”.
In addition, Zeinab also had challenges when navigating the postsecondary education system. With parents who have immigrated to Canada, they are unaware of the education system and it can be difficult to navigate the transition from high school to post-secondary education, balancing all aspects of life, and managing the financial costs that come with it. However, Zeinab reminds listeners that there are support systems out there, like the Somali Centre for Family Services, that will help navigate these uncharted waters and bring you to a destination where you feel at ease.
Zeinab tells listeners, “education is not linear— there are lots of things that can disrupt your plans— So don’t put that pressure on yourself. Take it easy. Take everything at your own pace. You will get there eventually”.