Fadumo Musse of Lewiston High School is one of three high school juniors to win the Maine Community College System’s Journey Into Writing awards. From left are Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, Musse, students Arianna Tang and Emily Evans of Searsport High School, and first lady Ann LePage
Monday, June 24, 2013
AUGUSTA — A Lewiston High School student who wrote about leaving Somalia and adapting to a new country is one of three winners of a statewide writing contest for high school juniors.
Fadumo Musse is believed to be the first to win the annual writing contest whose native language is not English, Maine Community College System spokeswoman Elly Chase said Friday.
The other two students, who also won MCCS’s “A Journal Into Writing Contest” and named the 2013 Governor’s Young Writers of the Year, are Emily Evans of Searsport and Arianna Tang of Frankfort, both juniors at Searsport District High School.
Evans won for her essay “The Lake House,” Tang for “Sunny Side Up” and Musse for “The Land of My Memories.”
The three student essays were chosen from 137 entries from 40 Maine high schools. Contest judges were Maine authors Susan Kenney, Lewis Robinson and Bill Roorbach.
Lewiston Superintendent Bill Webster said he’s excited for Musse and the award she won.
“It’s another indication of the hard work and success taking place in Lewiston schools,” he said. Her essay is moving and well written, Webster said. “To think this is her second language is amazing. I think she’s got her college (application) essay.”
Musse wrote about leaving Somalia as a child, a country she described as “filled with people who share the same religion, language, color.” She wrote about war, how “bullets became the rain of the nation.”
Musse wrote about struggling to fit in at Lewiston High School, taking on more work than expected, “always careful, watching my words and carefully selecting my course of actions. I abandoned my culture, trying to assume the identify I thought would serve me better.”
One rainy day walking home from school with friends she met an elderly, fragile Somali lady.
The woman asked Musse if she was a Somali. She answered “of course I am a Somali,” but realized she answered in English. The experience helped Musse realize she didn’t need to abandon her culture. The next day she wore her culture more proudly, wearing her longest hijab to school.
Everyone treated her the same. “I finally learned that I didn’t have to change my true identity,” she wrote.
First lady Ann LePage and MCCS President John Fitzsimmons presented the three students with awards and $2,500 checks during a June 19 Blaine House ceremony. The prize money was donated by U.S. Cellular.
Fitzsimmons said in a written statement that the high school writers’ “innate talent has been nurtured by their teachers, who have allowed their skills to develop and now be recognized as the best in Maine.”
“A Journey Into Writing” is open to all high school juniors.