Somalia to Sheffield: Abdi’s journey

Abdi-Aziz Suleiman is the new Students' Union President.
Abdi-Aziz Suleiman is the new Students' Union President.

Beginning in Somalia, and taking in 18 years in Broomhall, it’s been a long and eventful journey for Union President-elect Abdi-Aziz Suleiman.

The third year Philosophy student won a landslide victory in the Union Officer elections, beating his nearest rival by almost 2,000 votes.

Since his win, he has been getting back down to earth with coursework, but in the back of his mind he knows that next year he’ll be taking on the responsibility of around 25,000 students.

Big task

And when Abdi heard the announcement that he will be next year’s Union President, he immediately came to terms with the enormity of the task ahead of him.

“People think it’s a moment of ecstatic joy, but really it’s a moment of considerable burden and of considerable responsibility.

“You have a year to do the things that you said you’d do and the things that you fundamentally believe will make the Union and the city a better place, and if you don’t end up doing the things that you said you’d do, you have almost a lifetime of regret.

“That’s also an intense pressure.”

Abdi’s policies

Abdi wants to introduce an Open Café where students can contribute ideas to officers and discuss them with other students.

“What you can do is create a space where as many students can come together and mingle with other students as possible, and then the point is to ask societies: ‘If we set up an Open Café, would you be willing to advertise it inside your society?‘ And say to everyone, ‘Enjoy what you’re doing here, but make sure you get down to the Open Cafés as well.”

And having worked with local children, Abdi also wants to increase the level of student participation in the local community.

“What if we paid students a small amount of money, a living wage or a minimum wage and they went into an area, and they provided tutoring services to students in the local area?

“That would make a considerable amount of difference to people’s lives.

“Students of all different subjects could go into these areas and help. Then we could literally make a difference, not just to the lives of people, but also to the intellectual atmosphere of the city.”

Brought up in Broomhall

Since leaving Somalia at the age of three, Abdi has been brought up on the University’s doorstep in Broomhall.

“I was born in Somalia, and left Somalia when I was about three, and it’s a lot simpler than it seems.

“From then, I literally moved to Broomhall, and if you go up to University House, you can actually see my house from there.”


3 Responses to “Somalia to Sheffield: Abdi’s journey”

  1. Christopher Beckett

    Fucking hell! You’d think he was taking over the Presidency of a country, not the Students’ Union.

  2. Sam

    It’s a pity he turned out to be such an incompetent fool. The student’s union needs a pragmatist, not a wooly-headed ideologue. I’m sick of listening to his politically polarizing drivel.

  3. Sarah

    Truly a president with heart and soul. The guy genuinely cares about students and people in general and he did alot of good during his presidency. He actually took the time to talk to people and find out their stories and put in the time outside of office hours to help, which is exactly why he was elected in the first place. By the end of my first year, I was somewhat disappointed by the experience and the word “Union” still meant shit over-priced nights on campus to me and I had never even heard of elections/SABS/committees etc but while working part-time in a restaurant over the summer, I served a polite young Somali guy who took a genuine interest in my life and experience of uni thus far. He happily engaged me, asking me what I wanted out of life and university and readily offered advice and information on how I could go about fulfilling those things (this was before he’d even started his presidency). I added him on facebook and to my surprise he contacted me the next semester to ask how uni was going and he actually went out of his way to help me with the things I had told him about. Now, at the end of my second year, I have met lots of interesting and brilliant friends, I know my SAB team, I’m actively involved in the union with various societies and in several committees and not only did I vote this year but I actually campaigned too :) My experience of uni has completely turned around in this year; I love my uni and my union and I can honestly say that’s all because Abdi said HI!!

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