Any fans of the Olympics out there?? It truly is wonderful to watch the world come together in the form of athletic competition, isn’t it? In light of this special month, we chose Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid, even though its ending is not what you’d expect – at least, certainly not what you’re hoping for. Although Samia worked tirelessly to overcome so many hardships as a young woman and athlete, there were still circumstances in the world to thwart her efforts. For those of you who have not finished yet, I’d rather not spill the beans, but keep reading! Here are some questions to think about, and further reading suggestions. Is there an Olympic story YOU have read and loved? Please share! Make sure to print off the book art done by Amelia Giller!
- Samia and AlÌ are from opposing clans, yet their families live harmoniously together in their attached, meager dwellings, near poverty. The war in Somalia touches them personally throughout the years this book entails, but Aabe, Samia’s father says to them, “Do you know that we are all Somali brothers, regardless of tribes and clans?” He also makes them promise to live together in peace. How have their parents’ friendship and respect for each other’s differences set the example in how they treat each other and in their outlook on life? Does the war really matter to them?
- “The world is the same wherever you go.” // “God helps those who help themselves.” // What other proverbs or sayings from Samia’s father struck you? He tells Samia to change what she does not like, to never say she’s afraid, and tobe a warrior for the women of Somalia. Clearly, he was a singular, unique father for the time and place they lived in. How do you think this was instrumental in Samia’s upbringing?
- How does Samia’s beloved Mogadishu almost play a role (like a real character) in the story? Samia loves it, yet needs to escape it. She loves the nearby sea, but never gets to set foot in it.
- “It’s a long way down, as every leap to freedom should be.” Catozzella, the author, tells us what Samia’s thoughts may have been as she attempted to reach Italy. How has Samia’s heart-wrenching story changed you or touched you? What will YOU do or how will YOU think differently after reading about this inspirational young woman?? (And if you haven’t yet, be sure to Google Samia and watch her race in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It will put a lump in your throat and hope in your heart.)
If you were inspired by Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid, you might like:
An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar by Reinhard Kleist
Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics by Jeremy Schaap