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Meet Three Vermonters Who Became U.S. Citizens In 2019: Said Bulle

A person looks up with colorful cloth in the background.
Elodie Reed
At a ceremony under the Vermont Statehouse dome, Said Bulle completed the naturalization process in 2019. This is his story.

Said Bulle moved to Vermont 15 years ago at the age of 15 after growing up in Somalia and living in a refugee camp in Kenya. He lives in Burlington, where he plays in an Afrobeat band called A2VT. He’s one of three people VPR spoke with shortly after receiving U.S. citizenship.

Here’s Said’s story, in his words.

Click here to go to VPR's 'New Citizens' project page.

(Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity).

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My name is Said Bulle. I live in Burlington. I'm a musician, singer and dancer, and I love what I do.

I knew in my head, even though I was like, 5 years old, I knew I was popped in the wrong spot. I grew up in a civil war. When it gets dark, it’s really dark. And when they start chopping heads, they’re really doing it.

I moved from Somalia when I was 12. I was in the camp probably like, two or three years. It was a rough place. Especially those two years, I experienced a lot. And food-wise and water-wise. And weather. We have only two seasons ... it’s water everywhere, or dry.

If you run out of your water, you’re in hell.

More from VPR — Meet Three Vermonters Who Became U.S. Citizens This Year: Islane Louis [Dec. 31]

And I come to America. And they’re all like, you 15, you almost going on 15, you're going to be in ninth grade. I'm like, “What? What is ninth grade?” High school. I’m like, “I don’t wanna go to high school, I wanna go to kindergarten.”

Here’s the thing: I never — I never went — I never went to school. And when I went there, it wasn't like I thought it was. It was a lot of help in there. Those four years swing by so fast. I wasn't ready to graduate, and I wanted another four years but they didn’t. It was fun graduating. I loved it.

More from VPR — Meet Three Vermonters Who Became U.S. Citizens This Year: Arunima Dasgupta [Dec. 31]

I'm the founder of A2VT. You know, I put them all together. Our band is about bringing the people together, entertainment and happiness. Afrobeat, Afro-music, with a positive message. Four or five different languages. And one music:

Don’t you know it’s not complicated Live life and not be hated Only you and I can change it Now or never.

I’m 30 now: 15 years in Africa, 15 years in America. Fifteen years in Vermont. You know that’s why I represent myself A2VT: Africa to Vermont.

Place you were born, that’s home, home, home. That’s the motherland. Vermont, it was my second home.

I liked how Vermont welcomed me for who I am and accepted me for who I am. And now I’m doing it ... all the things that I want to do. And that’s what makes it home.

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These stories were produced by digital producer Elodie Reed. Production assistance came from Emily Corwin and editing from Mark Davis. Music by A2VT and Blue Dot Sessions. Special thanks to Liam Elder-Connors, Henry Epp, Chris Albertine, Noah Cutter, Jonathan Butler and Meg Malone.

Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
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