Egal is a 15 year old Somali refugee who came to the United States when he was 9. Back in Somalia when he was 4 he had witnessed his parents be killed, and he and his grandparents fled to a refugee camp. After several years they were relocated to Boston.
In Boston Egal lived with his grandparents and 5 cousins. His grandparents were old, and the transition to the U.S. did not go easily. They did not speak English. the grandfather in particular suffered greatly from what he had seen and lost in the war. He almost never left the house, and spent much of the day talking to himself about the war. Egal was deeply respectful of his grandparents, but began spending less and less time in the house. Egal’s Somali was less fluent than his English, and his communicating with is grandparents was superficial.
In school Egal was placed in a classroom with peers of his same age, but due to lost years of education while he was in the refugee camp he was far behind them academically. The teachers described his as spaced out, and lazy. Socially he was a loner. He was the frequent target of teasing and bullying by some of the kids, and often got into scrapes. After another kid yelled ‘Your father is Osama bin Laden’ Egal jumped on him and beat him up.
Egal started avoiding school. Estranged from home, rejected at school, he began to hang in the neighborhood with some older boys. He called them his bad friends. They didn’t go to school. They didn’t respect their elders. But Egal felt like he belonged.