Lina Mohamed shares her story as an Ethiopian American with a diverse cultural heritage. Born in a small town in Texas, Lina was never afraid to pursue her dreams. She recalls her journey into the big city of New York, and how she hopes to make a difference in the lives of others by obtaining a law degree. This story was recorded in partnership with MALA and StoryCorps.
“I grew up in a small town in Garland, Texas. Most of my childhood, it was me and my mom. It was a happy place, a happy home. My mom really worked hard to raise me. A lot of the times she was pretty much working full time, so my childhood often consisted of me being baby-sitted or going to daycare, but I really do have a lot of fun memories from my childhood, growing up with my cousins, laughter and joy.
I come from an Ethiopian background;both of my parents are from Ethiopia, so growing up, our identity was shaped as Ethiopian Americans. It was a very diverse community, because I did grow up in a community where there were different ethnicities, there was an Arab culture and a Desi culture, so I grew up in a pretty diverse community. My dad is Orthodox and my mom is Muslim, so I grew up in an ethnic/religious mix as well.
There were times where I was really confused in terms of my identity because I didn’t know who I was for the longest time; I didn’t know where I fit in; I was not American enough, nor Ethiopian enough, therefore I did struggle with my identity growing up. A lot of it has to do with me seeing the world a little differently from my cousins or my other family members. Even though we were so close together, my household was different from their household and I saw the world a little differently just because living with my mom made think more critically and be more open minded; it helped me understand a lot of things.
There’s a stereotype of New Yorkers being mean and tough, not caring about other people’s emotions. I’ve found that to be actually completely false. The most New Yorkers that I’ve met have been the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve had a couple times where my metra card was just not working, or I lost it, or dropped it, and people were just quick to help. They were always there. Before you can open your mouth to ask for help, they do the most and beyond, to the point where they call you an Uber or Taxi. That made a big impression on me and my main reason coming out here was the people. So much culture, so much diversity, and so much love and happiness.
Some of my dreams growing up as a kid was really, to impact someone. I’ve wanted to impact a group of people. Not necessarily change the world, but definitely influence people. If I were to stop living ( God forbid), I’d want people to remember the energy and positivity I gave out, and my emphasis on giving; always giving. I’d like to help people in need and give back to them. I’m really passionate about acting. If that means acting will be my way of giving people some happiness and joy, then to me, I’ve fulfilled my dream. Same goes with law school. Me helping bring justice to people will be a way to fulfill this dream of mine”