About the Author
Hudda Ibrahim, MA, is a faculty member at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, where she teaches diversity and social justice. Hudda specializes in international peace studies, conflict resolution, policy analysis, and political change. She sits on several nonprofit boards, including the Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization, United Way of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, and the Saint Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, in which she is diversity council vice chair. She has published articles on reconciliation, mediation, the role of Somali traditional elders, and the use of customary law in Somalia. She has contributed articles to the Huffington Post and other news sources, both local and international. Hudda’s interests include conflict transformation, the politics of reconciliation, global politics, transitional justice, gender issues, and war and peace. She has given talks on issues of community relationship building, peace, human rights, women’s empowerment and inclusion in politics, and alternative world futures at colleges, universities, churches, and other venues. She has written three other books: The Traveler: True Grit , a memoir about her work, contributions, and life journey; Get in the Driving Seat of Your Own Life: Steps to Unleash Women’s Confidence, a book that encourages girls and women to pursue their God-given potential and understand their abilities in order to flourish and be successful in the United States; and The Role of the Traditional Somali Model in Peacemaking, based on her MA thesis. She holds a master’s degree in peace studies from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree in peace and conflict studies and English literature from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota.
Hudda is the founder and president of Filsan Consultant LLC. Filsan works with local businesses and related entities to provide three revenue-generating services: consulting, speaking engagements, and training for the employer. Hudda is a change agent, providing necessary resources to bring the central Minnesota community and new American populations together. In doing so, businesses and community members can learn about each other and leverage their cultural backgrounds in innovative ways to create successful business relationships.
On weekends, Hudda mentors a cohort of young Somali women. She has strived to be known as an engaging and effective advocate for the educational and social needs of students and adults throughout an increasingly large and diverse community. In her spare time, she reads books and magazines.
In recognition of her leadership, Hudda has received numerous awards. These include the 5 under 40 Award, 2016 Difference Maker, 2016 Partners in Education District 742 Award for the Take Ten project, and the Women’s Group project. The Somali American National Institute has offered her an appreciation award for her work in the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
A: Before I wrote this book, I spoke at schools, churches, and businesses about Somali people’s life experiences, challenges, and opportunities. The idea of writing this book came to me after several of my close friends and colleagues asked me questions about Somali people and their culture. Many have wondered how thousands of Somali refugees, who have a unique culture and little knowledge of English, came to live in this cold, snowy area with people of predominantly European descent. I hear every day many Saint Cloud–born Americans ask who these new people are. What are their lives and struggles like in Saint Cloud? Are they contributing to the Saint Cloud economy or draining resources from the community? Are they assimilating or trying to impose their culture and religion on American mainstream society?
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: For almost one year and half.
Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
A: Depending on what kind of research you want to conduct. For this book, “From Somalia to Snow,” I interviewed thirty-four Somali members of the Saint Cloud community. I collected these interviews and took notes for over one year.
Q: What's next for you? What are you working on now?
A: I am currently working on two more books. I also am finalizing my thesis as a book.
Q: How do you get inspired to write?
A: When I was seven, I started writing my daily journal. My advice to you is write story. Write a journal. Write as much as you can. Keep going. Don’t be afraid to fail. You will always have a room to correct your mistakes by yourself. Do all you can to make the story you’re telling so fascinating to yourself that you can’t imagine putting it down.
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A: Yes, many Somali community members initially were hesitant to talk to me about their experiences. To remain as open as possible, I chose not to ask them predetermined questions, so we shared informal conversational interview. When I talked to them about my own experiences and challenges, they started to be so open to me. I learned that not everyone liked the idea of “question and answer.” People don’t feel receptive to the idea of talking about immigration and assimilation, mental illness and physical abuse. I found most people might mistake the assimilation with integration because these two terms are not in our Somali language. Instead, we use other terms comparable to them. Another problem I met was some interviewees felt uncomfortable at public places. Some invited me to their own homes.
Q: Do you have any unusual writing habits?
A: Yes, I have some unusual writing habits. I have some quirky habits and rituals that will work for me while writing or researching. To find motivation for my writing, I drink several cups of coffee. Good ideas pop into my head while I am trying to taking shower or falling asleep. I stop all I am doing, jot down my thoughts on paper before they disappear. Sometimes best ideas come to me in the car. All I do is record it on my phone.
Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
A: Any place where I can smell coffee is nice place to write.
Q: What is your favorite part of the book?
A: Every chapter is my favorite chapter to read. I really don’t have a preference. I still read each chapter religiously.
Q: Do you have any advice for future authors?
A: Once an English novelist, Will Self, said, I quote, “The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can’t deal with this you needn’t apply.” Unquote. There will be a time you will love being alone with your laptop. Anyways, write a first draft. Do not worry about mistakes and typos. Just write all you can first. It is a powerful feeling when you start writing a story. Many people think about book publication before they even start writing. A lot of your close friends will tell you writing is not that easy or did not work for them. Never assume your writing will not work for you as well. I think the rule of writing is that if you do it with enough self-confidence. Always stay motivated while writing. Trust me, once you start writing, you will face doubt. The best way to overcome such self-doubt is get to know what you want to write in advance. Write something different. Write something you are good at and write something you know well. Rely on your ability and tell yourself you can write well, then do all you can to prove your ability to write. You will always have someone who will support you along the way.
Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
A: I honestly cannot thank Beaver’s Pond Press enough for their hard work and dedication to my project. The support and guidance I received encouraged me to publish this book.
Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
A: Currently, I have three unpublished manuscripts and one half-finished book.
Q: Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
A: I love you all.
- Gulliver’s Travels
- Little House on the Prairie
- Robinson Crusoe
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Prince and the Pauper
- The Secret Garden
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
If you’re part of a book club, this is your page. If you bought this book and you are interested in meeting me about future book club, I will join you. Meeting friends to drink coffee or tea while talking about this book sounds great to me.
At a time when United States citizens are being told to fear their Muslim neighbors, where does the truth lie? In this powerful book, Hudda Ibrahim unpacks the immigration narrative of Somali Americans and explains why nearly 20 percent have chosen to settle in Minnesota.
From Somalia to Snow gives readers an invaluable insider’s look into the lives and culture of our Somali neighbors and the important challenges they face. Designed with a diverse audience in mind, this book is a must-read for students, health-care professionals, business owners, social service agencies, and anyone who wants to better understand Somali people in Minnesota.
Inside From Somalia to Snow, discover:
Why thousands of Somali refugees came to live in this cold, snowy area with people of predominantly European descent.
Answers to questions like, are Somali Americans contributing to the economy or draining resources from the community? Are they assimilating or trying to impose their culture and religion on American mainstream society?
The challenges facing Somali businesses and their growing role in Saint Cloud
An introduction to Somali culture, Islamic beliefs, and the roles they play in Somalis’ lives
Somali beliefs and practices regarding health, and some of the issues in their medical care
News & Events
BOOK LAUNCH EVENT
Wednesday July 12th, 2017 at 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM CDT
St. Cloud Technical & Community College Library
1540 Northway Drive, St. Cloud, MN 56303
BOOK SIGNING EVENTS
Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at Twin Cities’ Book Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m (One of the largest book gatherings in the Midwest.)
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at St. Cloud Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 6p.m.-8:00p.m. – 4310 Co Rd 137, St Cloud, MN 56301
Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 at Whitney Recreation Center, St. Cloud, MN at 9:30a.m.-12:30p.m. – 1529 Northway Dr, St Cloud, MN 56303
Sunday, September 24th, 2017 at Karen Lohn’s house, Annandale, MN
Thursday, September 14th, 2017 at Little Falls Library, Little Falls, MN at 4:30p.m.-9:00p.m.,
Wendesday, September 13th, 2017 at Stearn History Musuem, at 9:00am-11:00am – 235 South 33rd Avenue, St Cloud, MN 56301
Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 at Gorecki 204, College of Saint Benedict at 4:30p.m.
Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 at 4:00p.m. –6:00p.m. at The Local Blend, 19W Minnesota St, St Joseph, MN 56374
Saturday, August 19th, 2017 at 12:00p.m.-2:00p.m. at Dunn Brothers Coffee, County Road 120, Sartell, MN.
Saturday, August 5th, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Minnesota Authors Fair- Gramercy Room, 6711 Lake Shore Drive Richfield, MN55423
Saturday, July 29th, 2017 at 12:00p.m. – 2:00p.m. at Barnes & Noble (Saint Cloud, MN) 3940 Division St, Saint Cloud, Minnesota 56301
Dave Kleis, mayor of Saint Cloud, Minnesota
“From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis provides a great understanding of Somali culture, tradition, religion, and issues of integration and assimilation. In addition, it enhances awareness of the challenges and barriers that the Somali community faces. The book sheds light on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the Somali people. The Somali experience is similar to the experiences of other immigrant and refugee groups. They, too, want to live the American Dream. I highly recommend this book to educational institutions, the business community, health-care departments, and anyone who works and continues to build for community.
Lee Morgan, president, Morgan Family Foundation
“Hudda Ibrahim has the gift of being able to communicate across ethnic, racial, gender, economic, generational, and political barriers with a level of intimacy that requires years of cross-cultural experience. This gift illuminates the expe¬rience of the Somali community in central Minnesota and is a must-read for anyone who seeks to understand Somali American challenges as well as the challenges faced by many of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Bruce Mohs, school board member, Saint Cloud Area Schools, Saint Cloud, Minnesota
“From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis is a scholarly written manuscript which is equal parts information, inspiration, and instruction. The author helps to reset a community’s immigration narrative from ignorance to understanding, deficits to assets, scarcity to abundance, and fear to acceptance. In timely and import¬ant ways, this book is the collective story of all immigrant families who, throughout our nation’s history, have shown unyielding resolve and resilience in pursuing the American Dream! A great educational tool, this book should be on the collection shelves in all school and community libraries.”
Patti Gartland, president, Greater Saint Cloud Development Corporation
“Hudda Ibrahim has long served as an economic adviser to our greater Saint Cloud community, to Somali and greater Saint Cloud–area businesses, and to our foreign-born residents. And now, this talented, passionate young woman has gifted our community with her much-needed and long-awaited publication filled with personal and professional insights on the journey and challenges faced by Somali immigrants and refugees that have joined our community. Thank you, Hudda, for pouring your heart and soul into writing this book, From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis, and for being a trailblazer, a role model, and a community leader. But most of all, thank you for being a very dear friend.
Sangeeta Jhai, PhD, faculty and diversity coordinator, St. Cloud Technical and Community College
“Hudda Ibrahim’s book is a must-read because it is well researched, informative, holistic, and one of the best introductions to Somali culture for people of central Minnesota and beyond. Hudda writes with clarity, honesty, and integrity. Her very timely book is a valuable resource for the local community, for it strikes a wonderful balance between personal and professional narratives that capture critical information of her native cultural heritage.
Jessica O'Reilly, assistant professor of international studies, Indiana University, Bloomington
“Ibrahim’s book fills a void between the scholarly literature on immigration to the United States and the practical, everyday lives of newcomers to the area as they integrate into their new communities—and as the more long-standing community members integrate to their new neighbors. If you are seeking to learn more about Somali Americans in central Minnesota, this book is an outstanding resource for learn¬ing about the history and cultural practices of Somali people. Ibrahim provides a clear pathway between Somali and central Minnesotan cultures as a knowledgeable interpreter of both groups. Her book is an excellent example of cultural translation and will be highly useful for many readers.”
Professor Robert W. Galler, St. Cloud State University
“Ibrahim’s work provides a needed examination of the complexities of Somali choices and experiences in central Minnesota. Based on numerous interviews as well as per¬sonal experiences, she clearly shows how Somali immigrant experiences are parallel and distinct from prior European immigrants to central Minnesota. Given her portrayal on individuals and locations in Saint Cloud and central Minnesota, this work is accessible for a broad audience of readers interested in humanizing the experiences of Somalis in the region and thereby debunking many problematic generalizations promoted in some segments of the media.”
Mark Jaede, assistant professor,St. Cloud State University
“This book fills an important need for Saint Cloud and the surrounding area. Working from numerous personal interviews and her own life experience, Ms. Ibrahim tells the story of one of the largest communities of Somali people in the United States. It should be required reading for anyone doing any form of community work in the area and belongs on the shelves of local school and public libraries. Its value, however, is not limited to the Saint Cloud region. Anyone interested in the Somali diaspora or in refugee and immigrant populations in general will benefit from reading this account of members of one community speaking in their own voices.”
Abdi Mahad, research analyst
“This interesting and informative book explains about Somali culture, with stories of Somali resettlement and business. The writer provides a thoughtful and relevant understanding into Somali people’s contemporary challenges and opportunities in central Minnesota. This book will become the key go-to resource for everyone in Minnesota or anywhere else in the United States.”