Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Time to say Goodbye

I am really sad that my fellowship is ending. I have learned so much and had a great experience! Unfortunately, given the time restraints, none of the projects I planned have been implemented. However, I am very dedicated to the work and the people of St. Cloud, so I am implementing my projects during the fall on my own time and at my own expense. This experience can not fully be put into words on how I’ve grown personally, professionally, and academically. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to work with such great people.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

August 16- Refugee Advisory Committee

Announcements or updates


  • Yesterday Gold ‘n Plump and 30 Somali workers met with mediators and settled the complaint the Somalis made with the EOE about no time or space to pray. Workers are being compensated for the last year and were invited back to their jobs.
  • 50,000 new arrivals were expected this year, but the actual is about 36,000. Next year about 24,000 are expected. This is a result of a December bill that made the definition of a terrorist broad, so it’s hold up and denying applications for refugees to come to the US. HR5918- Pitts Bill is asking for exceptions for refugees that were forced into situations who are not terrorists.
  • There have been child care meetings for a house grant that would allow a Somali family to stay there while providing licensed daycare for other Somalis. The reps also handed out three pieces of literature.

Social Security Administration (Lisa & Rhonda)
· Social Security Insurance Program (RSDI)
o Need a work history and to have paid FICA, available to family members of disabled, retired, or widowed
· Supplement Security Income (SSI)
o Based on income and resources, then if over 65, disabled, or blind, and only available to the individual
o Criteria is different for refugees, 7 years eligibility for date of entry
o Asylee and refugee guidelines are different
o St. Cloud Legal Area Services is getting a grant to fill out applications

Immigrant Community Round Table
· I have Trudy Kenney from USCIS and Laura Tripiciano, an immigration lawyer in St. Cloud lined up to speak, with Hector Garcia as the moderator
· I posed several questions to the group: When (after Ramadan? Date? Time?) and an agenda.
· Nothing was decided, but it was suggested to contact Hector so that we have a guideline of a mission, purpose, and goals.
· I spoke to Mohammed after the meeting, and we decided to wait until after Ramadan, Friday at 9am, 2 ½ hours in length with 1 hour speakers, 45 minutes of questions and answers, and the remainder of action group.

August 10- Meeting at LaCruz

I met with Martha and Brandice to discuss what issues Somalis in their community are facing. Approximately 450 people live in the La Cruz community. The number one issue in both of their opinions is job discrimination for women and youth. They entrusted me with confidential information, so I don’t have much to say about this long conversation.

At La Cruz they offer ELL everyday and at all times of the day. They also have math, pre-employment tests, English at all levels, tutors, a computer lab, sewing, youth programs, and more. I told them I was lacking a youth initiative project, and they suggested that I talk to the youth themselves to get project ideas from them. I thought that was an excellent idea! We will meet on August 16 to discuss project ideas.

Martha is also working on a Multicultural Fair to promote cultural awareness. She wants the city to adopt it, and it is being planned for spring or summer 2007. I offered to help in any way.

August 10- Meeting with Baba

Baba and I met to discuss my project list. Per our discussion, this is an updated project list and budget.

Empowerment

1. Immigration Table
The Immigration Table is an idea adapted from meetings that occur in the Twin Cities. This is an opportunity for immigrants/refugees to ask questions of government and other service agencies in round-table discussions. Each monthly meeting has a different agenda and host agency. This also provides the opportunity to form action groups around a specific topic at hand. The agenda is usually presentations, question and answers, and then action groups. According to Mohamed, family reunification is the number one issue right now. I am contacting USCIS and St. Cloud Legal Aide to be the hosts of this 2 ½ hour table which will occur in October (goal date of committee). The site is yet to be determined, and see “Fellowship Expense Log” for estimated costs. Baba said to prepare the speakers to answer the question, “Why can’t we do this?”

2. Immigration/Welcome Guide
The United Way has a 75 page Immigration/Welcome Guide, and it has been discussed to make it shorter and more manageable for users, and to translate it to Somali. During the Immigration Table meeting we mentioned the importance of oral tradition in Somali culture and wondered if the guide should be translated and then put on a CD or DVD. I have spoken to a colleague at SCSU who does production and would be willing to help if we choose to go this route. Costs for this are not known until we decide print or audio. However, I have students at SCSU willing to do either for a small monetary amount in addition to the actual expense of creation. Baba has suggested that this be paid for by United Way, Lutheran Social Services, etc.

3. Book Drive
The money not spent on programs will be used to purchase books/materials for schools in the community.

4. Library Grant
There was a presentation at the League of MN Cities Conference that discussed the Library Services & Technology Act Fund, which funds special programs at libraries. I am looking into this grant and the possibility of applying for funds for books in Somali, books by Somali authors in English and Somali, and other types of books that would be of interest to the Somali community or those who would like to learn about Somalis. Audio tapes and videos will be important to include because of Somali oral traditions. Letters of intent are due January 2007.

5. Health Education Training
This training for Somalis will be led by Raul Vasquez from Willmar. The topics to be discussed are hygiene, food, exercise, mental health, and issues specific to men, women, and children. Raul is out of town, so specifics have not yet been established.

6. Youth Project
A meeting is scheduled for August 16 with the youth at La Cruz to get ideas from them on what is needed and would be beneficial to the Somali youth.

Education
(Note that all of these trainings will hopefully occur before Ramadan)

1. Somali Culture Training (2)
The purpose of this training, which will take place on two different occasions (one during day hours, the other at night to reach as many people as possible based on schedules), is to educate the people of St. Cloud on Somali culture. This 2 ½ hour session will be lead by a Somali, Mohamed or someone he suggests. The agenda is not yet created, but see “Curriculum Development” to view what I created for my class assignment, which can easily be adapted for this. The site is yet to be determined, and see “Fellowship Expense Log” for estimated costs. Although the training won’t specifically address or spell out racism, it will be addressed indirectly.

2. Employers/HR Training
As I have talked to Somalis and asked them what issue that would like me to address, employment is always the top of the list. Some of the issues I have heard are prayer time, clothing is a safety hazard, touching pork, Ramadan, language barriers, and being over qualified for the jobs they are working in. This is the project that I have the least amount of ideas for or an action plan. I’m thinking Baba would be the best to talk about these issues, but he maybe able to recommend someone else also. I don’t know if this should be training for employers or a round table discussion where there is dialogue between Somalis and employers.

Site Options:
Health- Whitney Senior Center (day)
Table- St. Cloud State University (day)
Culture- St. Cloud Technical College (day)
Culture- Tech High School (night)
Employer- City Hall (day)

Personal Expenses: $400
Immigration Table: $616
Library Grant: $50
Health Education Training: $253
Youth Program: $331
Somali Culture Training: $550
Somali Culture Training: $550
Somali Culture Training for Employers/HR: $250
Immigration/Welcome Guide: $0
Book Drive: (any remaining $)
Total: $3000

August 9- Twin Cities Organizations

Since I haven’t received email or phone responses from the Somali organizations in the Twin Cities, I have decided to go to them. I didn’t take it personally that they didn’t talk to me because I understand the culture and what the refugees have been through. I asked a Somali friend of mine to come with me so that the organizations would feel more comfortable talking to me.

We first went to the Confederation of Somali Community in MN. I felt like they tried to ignore me. My friend got them to talk to me, and the director was very reluctant at first. Once I told him that my dream was prevent human right violations and have no need for human right services for those who are violated, he was more talkative. They provide many services at the Confederation. Social services, community education, youth services, health education, trauma/war services, cultural events, quitting smoking, and alliances with immigrant organizations, are just a few.

When we left my friend told me that the director originally said he was busy and didn’t have time to see me. My friend pushed him on it, and then he agreed to see me. I told my friend that I wasn’t offended. I know about the struggles that Somalis have gone through and the trust violations they’ve experienced.

We then drove all over Minneapolis trying to find Somali Women in Minneapolis and Somali Benadiri Community of MN. We could not find them, nor did they answer their phones to give us directions. We found Somali Mai Community of MN, but it wasn’t open, even though the hours of operation were 8-5. We went back three different times and it was never open. We did notice the posters hung up and that family reunification seems to be a focus of theirs.

I asked my friend how these places are supposed to help people when they aren’t open, can’t be found, and don’t answer their phones or emails. He said that the Confederation is the only legitimate organization that helps people. He said that the others are money makers.

We went to Karmel Mall and the restaurant previously visited. My friend commented about how much I love Somali food, but I had to respond that I just started a diet and that Somali food is full of grease and bad things for me. I had two bites to satisfy my cravings, and then returned to my salad. When we went in we met a friend we were meeting. I waited by the door to go the women’s side when one of them said I could sit over by the men. One, I didn’t want to disrespect the rules, but two, I received so many looks walking in that I didn’t want to see the results of me sitting on the men’s side. We went to the Mall for a brief period of time before I had to leave. I am disappointed in myself for feeling this way, but I asked my friend to walk me to my vehicle because I didn’t think I take too many more stares. I told him if I was alone that not only would I feel uncomfortable, but so would the people around. I understand the culture, yet I get uncomfortable at the idea of the Somalis being uncomfortable because of me. This is something that I am really trying to working on.

August 3- Library Grant

I received information from Suzanne about the grant. Below are the guidelines of the grant. My ideas for the grant project are listed under the July 25 post. Although my fellowship will be over, I will be completing this grant.

The new LSTA guidelines outline two broad priorities for funding:
Programs that make library resources more accessible to urban and rural localities, to low-income residents, and to others who have difficulty using library services; and,
The federal goals of the LSTA state grants program are:
To improve library services through the use of technology
To encourage libraries to establish consortia and share resources, and
To target library services to persons having difficulty using a library and to underserved urban and rural communities.
The LSTA funds in the state grants program provide support for statewide library programs and seed money for projects that improve library services throughout the United States. In Minnesota funds are allocated based on the goals and programs in the current The State of Minnesota LSTA Five-Year Plan 2003-2007.
FFY 2007 Competitive Grant Timeline
• October 5, 2006 - MN Library
Advisory Council reviews 2007
LSTA grant process
• November 1, 2006 - State Library
Services Announces 2007 LSTA
Competitive Grant Allotment
• Week of November 6 – Grant
writing workshops
• November 6, 2006 – Grant Writing
Workshop/MDE Conference Center
B-16
• January 5, 2007 – Letters of Intent
due to State Library
• February 2007 - Review of Letters
of Intent and proposal notification/
Reviewer training
• March 16, 2007 - LSTA Grant
Application due to State Library
• Week of April 1, 2007 - LSTA
Grant Application Review
• April 5, 2007 - MN Library
Advisory Council reviews LSTA
Grant Awards
• April 8, 2007 - Grant Awards
notification and contract process
begins
• June 15, 2007 grants begin
• August 2007 - Grant Administration
Workshop
• January 3, 2008 - Mid year report
due
• August 1, 2008 - Progress (Final)
Report and Preliminary Evaluation
due
• August 1, 2009 - Final Report for
Outcome Evaluation due

August 2- More Contacting!!

I spent the day re-contacting everyone that I have tried to over the summer. I was surprised at how many people hadn’t responded to me!

August 1- Meeting with Raul

A friend of mine referred me to Raul in Willmar. He works for West Central Integration Collaboration which is a part of West Central Cooperatives. His organization is a part of a state mandate in culturally diverse areas with decreased access to education and health. He focuses on health, increasing the graduation rates, and cultural diversity. He slips culture into his health discussions so it is less intimidating. One of the things that caught my interest was a summer program that he created for youth. It allows them to be active, identify similarities with others, and to learn health and culture in a fun environment.
He also stated that when teaching cultural diversity to members of the community or business sector, you need to tell them how it affects them and what benefits there are to them for changing.

July 27- Review of Sources

I haven’t had time to review all of the sources I have cited. Today I reviewed all of the information. I found many organizations in the Twin Cities that I hadn’t contacted yet, so I did so.

July 26- Budget & Expense Report

Today I estimated all the expenses for the projects I decided to do. I also detailed all of the expenses that I have incurred, like gas/mileage. My expenses are $400 and projects are $2600. 85% of the fellowship money is spent directly on projects.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

July 25- Internship/Fellowship Projects

Empowerment

1. Immigration Table
The Immigration Table is an idea adapted from meetings that occur in the Twin Cities. This is an opportunity for immigrants/refugees to ask questions of government and other service agencies in round-table discussions. Each monthly meeting has a different agenda and host agency. This also provides the opportunity to form action groups around a specific topic at hand. The agenda is usually presentations, question and answers, and then action groups. According to Mohamed, family reunification is the number one issue right now. I am contacting USCIS and St. Cloud Legal Aide to be the hosts of this 2 ½ hour table which will occur in October (goal date of committee). The site is yet to be determined, and see “Fellowship Expense Log” for estimated costs.

2. Immigration/Welcome Guide
The United Way has a 75 page Immigration/Welcome Guide, and it has been discussed to make it shorter and more manageable for users, and to translate it to Somali. During the Immigration Table meeting we mentioned the importance of oral tradition in Somali culture and wondered if the guide should be translated and then put on a CD or DVD. I have spoken to a colleague at SCSU who does production and would be willing to help if we choose to go this route. Costs for this are not known until we decide print or audio. However, I have students at SCSU willing to do either for a small monetary amount in addition to the actual expense of creation.

3. Clothing & Supplies Drive
The money not spent on programs will be used to purchase materials for Welcome Boxes, School Supply Bags, and Warm Winter Wear packages for newly arrived refugees. These items will help them with their transition as they typically do not have many possessions, especially winter clothes.

4. Library Grant
There was a presentation at the League of MN Cities Conference that discussed the Library Services & Technology Act Fund, which funds special programs at libraries. I am looking into this grant and the possibility of applying for funds for books in Somali, books by Somali authors in English and Somali, and other types of books that would be of interest to the Somali community or those who would like to learn about Somalis. Audio tapes and videos will be important to include because of Somali oral traditions. Letters of intent are due January 2007.

Education
(Note that all of these trainings will hopefully occur before Ramadan)

1. Racism/White Privilege & Somali Culture Training (2)
The purpose of this training, which will take place on two different occasions (one during day hours, the other at night to reach as many people as possible based on schedules), is to educate the people of St. Cloud on racism, white privilege, and Somali culture. This 2 ½ hour session will be lead by an expert on racism and white privilege, Cindy, and a Somali, Mohamed or someone he suggests. The agenda is not yet created, but see “Curriculum Development” to view what I created for my class assignment, which can easily be adapted for this. The site is yet to be determined, and see “Fellowship Expense Log” for estimated costs.

2. Employers/HR Training
As I have talked to Somalis and asked them what issue that would like me to address, employment is always the top of the list. Some of the issues I have heard are prayer time, clothing is a safety hazard, touching pork, Ramadan, language barriers, and being over qualified for the jobs they are working in. This is the project that I have the least amount of ideas for or an action plan. I’m thinking Baba would be the best to talk about these issues, but he maybe able to recommend someone else also. I don’t know if this should be training for employers or a round table discussion where there is dialogue between Somalis and employers.

July 20- Meeting with Working Families Win

Today I met with Cassie from Working Families Win. The four goals of WFW are: livable wages, health care, fair trade, and workers right to organize. I brought up a few issues that I have come across in my internship, but she said while they are good issues to address, they have a specific focus and agenda that they are pursuing. Currently they are scheduling house meetings but by Labor Day they will be focused on voter contact. They are setting up meetings with the candidates and will then distribute literature to the voters on where the candidates stand on the issues. I express my thoughts that I didn’t think house visits with people inviting friends over was very realistic. My building is probably 50% Somali residents and we don’t have a community room. I asked how we are supposed to get people together in our small apartments to address issues. If we found a free place offsite, the bus doesn’t run in the evening or at convenient times, so getting people there could be an issue. I expressed a concern that Somali people’s voices may not be heard in their process.

July 19- Meeting with St. Cloud Refugee Collaborative

After the immigrant table meeting, Julie and I met to discuss the St. Cloud Refugee Collaborative.

July 19- Immigrant Table Meeting

Julie, Kim, Mohammed, and I brainstormed an Immigrant Community Roundtable. It’s an opportunity for refugees and immigrants to ask questions of government agencies about current issues and then there is an opportunity to form an action group.

Family Reunification was listed as the number one issue right now. Other topics were eligibility for SSI, county services, temporary unprotected status, undocumented immigrants, and employment authorization and hiring issues. Our goal is to have the meeting occur in October. We also brainstormed employers, government and non-profit agencies, and community members to invite: Electrolux, Gold ‘n Plump, Geneo, National Vision, Woodcraft, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, temp agencies, county and city employees, Workforce Center, Multicultural Center, St. Cloud hospital, the universities and colleges, Social Security Administration, USCIS, ICE, St. Cloud Police and Fire, IRS, LSS, SASSO, Housing Association, Housing Coalition, Centre Hispano, churches, Create Community, Human Rights Office, HAW, Boys and Girls Club, Anne Marie, UMOS, Whitney Center, Islamic Center, and Adult Education.

I volunteered to do the planning and coordinating as one of my fellowship projects.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

July 13- Class Presentation

I presented my curriculum in 15 minute presentation to my class. I briefly explained my fellowship and gave the definition of a refugee. Then I started to yell and give orders and did the “Fleeing for your Life” activity . As they talked, I interrupted them and tried to keep them rattled. After 5 minutes, neither group had a successful or realistic plan. I then read the story of Fatiyma who had 5 minutes to evacuate in Somalia and ended up living in Marshall, MN.

July 12- Meeting with Cindy

When we met, Cindy and I discovered that we knew each other from the Social Responsibility program. Cindy is the coordinator of service learning at SJU & CSB. She brought me a copy of New Beginnings: Bilow Cusub, the book published as a compilation of writings from an English class. The service learning project for this class was to interview Somali refugees. All of the stories were compiled into this book so that their stories could be heard.

Cindy is very knowledgeable about racism and white privilege, and is excited about me educating St. Cloud about the topics. Hearing her talk and her desire to do something new that will really impact the community prompted me to ask her to be the speaker at the training.

July 6- United Way

Today I met with Betty at the United Way. Her name came up during different meetings as a resource for me. I also found out that she was a part of some Somali culture trainings that occurred a couple of years ago. She gave me all of the hand outs and information from the training sessions that she’s been a part of. These are full of information to help me plan my sessions. The cultural awareness trainings were always filled to capacity and had good feedback from the participants. All of the trainings had a moderator. She says it’s important to stress the similarities between cultures to show that we aren’t that different. She also mentioned that while there are issues, what is working also needs to be expressed.

July 5-12- Curriculum Development

For my HURL681 Teaching Social Justice Issues class, we have to design a 10 hour curriculum. I have chosen to do mine on the projects that I hope to complete during my fellowship. Below is the curriculum I came up with as a preliminary starting place for the trainings I will design.

Anti-Racism in the Somali Immigrant/Refugee Population of St. Cloud

Goal:
To create an environment for the community members of the St. Cloud area to learn about immigrants and refugees, specifically Somalis and their culture, in order to dispel issues of racism

Objectives:
Community members will:
1. learn the definitions of immigrant and refugee and a brief introduction to their presence in the US and MN.
2. learn the definitions of race, racism, and white privilege.
3. learn about the country and history of Somalia, and the religion, language, art, dress, and food of Somali culture, and the changes to culture that have occurred since coming to the US.
4. learn about Somali life in St. Cloud in regards to housing, employment, education, language, health, childcare, and community involvement.
5. apply what they’ve learned about immigrants, refugees, racism, and Somalis through hands-on application activities.

Audience:
Community members of the St. Cloud area of various age, race, gender, class, religion, ability, and sexual orientation

Time frame:
Ten-hour informational seminar (8 am – 8 pm) on a Saturday

Materials:
· PowerPoint for each session that highlights the main points to make it easy to follow along and take notes.
· 30 second video clip Mummy…What is a refugee? will be shown during the “Definitions of Immigrant & Refugee” segment.
· 8 minute video clip Somalia’s History Summarized will be shown during the “Country Information & Brief History” segment.
· Your Predictions, Please! The Impact of Immigration worksheet will be handed out during “Impact of Immigration” segment.
· Mock-up of Asylum Application in “Pig Latin” worksheet will be handed out during “Employment/Job Services” segment.
· Educating about Immigrant, Refugee and Human Rights Issues: A Sampling of MN Organizations will be handed out during “Emerging Immigration Issues in MN” segment.
· 10 cards with statements of white privilege from McIntosh to be used during “White Privilege” segment.
· Somali Culture in St. Cloud, MN, a resource guide on restaurants, education opportunities, Somali organizations, and service organizations.
· One Somali translator
· Three Somali speakers
· One Human Rights Office speaker
· Six Somali dancers
· One piece of Somali poetry
· Ten pieces of Somali artwork
· One piece of Somali music
· Ten Somali participants of fashion show

Seminar:

*When welcoming everyone and doing introduction, make a statement about the sensitivity of materials to immigrants and refugees and that support services are available for any who needs them. Also, that inappropriate comments and actions will not be tolerated, and anyone engaging in those behaviors will be asked to leave.

Session 1: Race, Racism, & White Privilege (2 hours 20 minutes)

*Unless stated otherwise, the source for Session 1 is Hackman.

Oppression
a. Oppression Formulation
· Oppression= prejudice + power
b. General
· Pervasive in someone’s life
· Systemic and systematic
· Affects life resources
c. What
· Utilitarian function
· Self-esteem, the protective function
· Value-Expressive function
· Cognitive function
· Ask the members to individually write about when they participated in each function
d. How
· Exploitation
· Powerlessness
· Cultural imperialism
· Marginalization
· Violence
· Ask the members as a group for examples of the How in relation to race
Race- Culture- Ethnicity
a. Have members individually list components of race, culture, and ethnicity
b. Race
· Social construct
· Assigned meanings
c. Culture
· Internally constructed
· Evolves
· Intrinsic meaning
d. Ethnicity
· Heritage
e. Discuss European immigrant experience
Racism
a. Define
b. Color blind
c. Race consciousness
d. Racism Walkway
· 8 stages on the conveyor belt
· Ask members to individually write about where they are on walkway and why
· Why people are 4s
White Privilege
a. Unearned
b. The “norm”
c. Taught not to see it
d. Hand out 10 cards with white privilege statements to white members only to read out loud. Ask for reactions from the people of color and then from the white members. (Source: McIntosh)
How to Interrupt Racism & White Privilege
a. Stop the behavior
b. Educate
Costs and Benefits to Interrupt
a. Ask the members as a group to brainstorm ideas of the costs and benefits. (Source: Adams, Bell, Griffin)
b. Individually members will write a letter to the future generation on what they could/should have done to address racism/white privilege. (Source: Bigelow, Pederson)

Break (10 min)

Session 2: Immigrants & Refugees (1hour 50 minutes)

*Unless stated otherwise, the source for Session 2 is MN Advocates for Human Rights.

1. Assumptions about Immigrants & Refugees
· Ask the members as a group to compile a list of assumptions and then discuss
2. Definitions of Immigrant & Refugee
a. Define immigrant
b. Define refugee
c. Show video clip Mummy…What is a refugee? and discuss their reactions (Source: www.somalism.com)
3. Immigrants & Refugees in the US since 1800
a. Regions of origin
b. Laws and regulations
c. Statistics specific to MN
4. Refugee & Asylum Seekers
a. Small group: “Fleeing for your Life” activity (5 minutes)
· Individually list 10 items to bring with
· In groups of 5-10 decide what to bring (only 3 items each), how they’ll flee, how they’ll get food, and where they’ll go
· Ask for reactions and comments
b. Explain the whole process of seeking refugee/asylum, not just the pieces explored in the activity. (Source: Valerian)
· Preflight chaos
· Flight
· Refugee camps
· Final resettlement
· Psychological issues/trauma
c. Personal story from Somali refugee speaker
5. Impact of Immigration
a. Distribute Your Predictions, Please! The Impact of Immigration worksheet to be completed individually or in small groups. Answers will be revealed throughout the four lecture points.
b. Economy
c. Social services
d. Naturalization Process
e. Unity in Diversity
6. Emerging Immigration Issues in MN
a. Explain that the examples and stories provided in Hate crimes and the USA PATRIOT Act affect Somalis because of their Muslim religion.
b. Hate crimes and biases since 9/11
c. USA PATRIOT Act
d. US Supreme Court Case: Keyse Jama from Somalia
· Ask the members their opinions about the results of the case
e. Handout Educating about Immigrant, Refugee and Human Rights Issues: A Sampling of MN Organizations and note that they are great resources for getting involved with the refugee/immigrant community or for educational materials.

Q & A Session (10 min)

Lunch (1 hour)
*Lunch is not provided, but during the lunch break they are encouraged to participate in round table discussions on the materials covered thus far.

Session 3: Somalia History, Customs, and Religion (1 hour 50 minutes)

*Unless stated otherwise, the source for Session 3 is Drake.
*Note that a Somali community leader presents this session.

1. Country Information & Brief History
a. Show map
b. Country statistics
c. Pre-colonial Somalia
d. Colonial Somalia
e. 1969-1991
f. 1991- present
g. Show video clip Somalia’s History Summarized (Source: www.somalism.com)
h. Ask the members for comments on the video or the history presented
2. Religion
a. 5 pillars of faith in Islam
· Writing exercise: individually write what they believe in/their faith to compare similarities
b. Ramadan
c. Men and Women roles
d. Hijab
3. Language
a. Nonverbal
b. Body
c. Have PowerPoint slide written in Somali and have speaker speak in Somali for 30 seconds- 1 minute to disorient the audience. Relate this experience to the fact that some Somalis don’t know English, not because they don’t want to know it, but because the opportunity hasn’t been available. Then have a Somali Language 101- teach hi, bye, and thank you in Somali.

Break (10 min)

Session 4: Somali Culture (1 hour 20 minutes)

*Unless stated otherwise, the source for Session 4 is Drake.
*Note that a Somali community leader presents this session.

1. Art
a. Listen to one piece of music
· Describe the artist and significance of the music
b. View 10 pieces of art
· Explain the purpose/meaning of each piece
c. Read one poem
· Note that Somalia is a “Nation of Poets”
· Read the poem in Somali and then in English
d. Traditional dance
· Describe the purpose/meaning of the dance
· Then performance
2. Dress
a. Fashion show with 10 outfits
b. Explain significance/purpose of each
c. Address the common question: Why do they dress like that?
3. Food
a. Story of preparation/significance of the preparation
b. Address the common question: Why does there food smell like that?
c. Mention to the members that they will be able to sample food during dinner
4. Cultural Changes Since Coming to the US
5. Handout Somali Culture in St. Cloud, MN, so members can see how to be involved in Somali culture in St. Cloud. (Source: Drake (July 2006))

Q & A Session (10 min)

Dinner- Somali food will be provided (1 hour)
*Members are again encouraged to participate in round table discussions on the materials covered thus far.

Session 5: Somali Life in St. Cloud (1 hour 50 minutes)

*This session is open to the public, but it is most beneficial to Human Resources personnel, employers, housing and rental personnel, educators, health and child care providers, and community planners who have the opportunity to make positive changes at their jobs in the areas that Somalis have expressed a need for improvement.
*Unless stated otherwise, the source for Session 4 is Drake.
* Note that a Somali community leader and Human Rights Office representative present this session.
*Make a statement when starting that language barriers are a factor in all of these areas.

1. Ask members what issues they face in daily life. This will help them see that while there are similarities in the two communities, there are also differences.
2. Housing
a. Renting
b. Large families
c. Maintenance/daily living requirements
3. Employment/Job Services
a. Complete Mock-up of Asylum Application in “Pig Latin” individually or in small groups to demonstrate language barrier, and then ask for reactions. (Source: MN Advocates for Human Rights)
b. Transfer of certification/licenses
c. Working in jobs over qualified for
d. Prayer time
4. Education
a. Pre-K, K-12
b. GED, adult
c. College
5. Language
a. ESL/ELL
b. Body
c. Non-verbal
6. Health/Healthcare
a. Female doctors for women
b. Presence of men
c. Health issues
7. Childcare
a. New concept
b. Availability
c. Affordability
8. Community Involvement/Inclusion
a. Children
b. Adult
c. Family
9. Brainstorm ideas of how they can use all of this information and implement it at their jobs.

Q & A Session (10 min)

Bibliography

· Adams, M., Bell, L., and Griffin, P. (1997). Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge. Chapter 6: Racism Curriculum Design, pgs 82-109.

· Bigelow, B., and Peterson, B. (2002). Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, Ltd. pg 316.

· Drake, S. (July 2006). Somali Culture in St. Cloud, MN

· Drake, S. (2006). Opinions and ideas from the St. Cloud Somali community gathered through my internship/fellowship work.

· Hackman, H. (2006). HURL681: Teaching Social Justice. Class notes.

· McIntosh, P. (Winter 1990). White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Independent School.

· MN Advocates for Human Rights. (2004). Energy of a Nation: Immigrants in America. A Teaching Guide Suitable for Learners from 8th Grade-Adult.

· MN Advocates for Human Rights. (2004). Educating about Immigrant, Refugee and Human Rights Issues: A Sampling of MN Organizations. Energy of a Nation: Immigrants in America. A Teaching Guide Suitable for Learners from 8th Grade-Adult. pg 182.

· MN Advocates for Human Rights. (2004). Mock-up of Asylum Application in “Pig Latin”. Energy of a Nation: Immigrants in America. A Teaching Guide Suitable for Learners from 8th Grade-Adult. pg 62.

· MN Advocates for Human Rights. (2004). Your Predictions, Please! The Impact of Immigration. Energy of a Nation: Immigrants in America. A Teaching Guide Suitable for Learners from 8th Grade-Adult. pg 85.

· Mummy…What is a refugee? (January 6, 2006) 30 second video clip retrieved from http://www.somalism.com/videos.html.

· Somalia’s History Summarized. (May 5, 2006) 8 minute video clip retrieved from http://www.somalism.com/videos.html.

· Valerian, L. (April 93). Stages & Stressors of the Refugee Experience. From The Center for Victims of Torture. In the “University of MN Human Rights Center Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship Program Orientation Handbook 2006” pgs 65-68.

Monday, July 24, 2006

July 1: Somalia Independence Day

Today is the Independence Day for southern Somalia. I was planning to attend festivities in the Twin Cities, but I was required to work at the Mall at my friend’s store. I noticed 3 adult males and 1 adult female Somali walking through the Mall. A little time later, the same four people were with Mall security, and one man was showing a receipt. They then all walked away together. I have no idea what was going on, but my assumption was that they were accused of stealing like many other black people are in the US.

Then I had 6 Somali teenage boys come into the store and try on hats. After two paid for hats and they left, I noticed a hat missing and walked out into the mall to see if I could find them. A couple of them noticed me, and I saw the boys scramble, and then I saw the hat go flying into a neighboring store. I got the hat, but the boys were gone. Given all of the stereotypes and myths out there about Black youth, it was really disheartening to see this happen.

When I got to my apartment after work, I noticed that the fire alarm was off of the wall and missing a battery so I called my landlord. She said “Those Somalis set them off all of the time with their cooking and then take them down and take the batteries out.” I said it could have been anyone, but I didn’t want to get into a big discussion with her, as we have talked about the topic several times before when she blames the Somalis for things and I say it could be anyone.

June 30: Discussion of Black Hawk Down

I talked to a good friend of mine who is Somali who sounded disappointed in me for having watched Black Hawk Down. I explained to him that I watched the movie to know what people’s perspectives are, and then he was ok with me watching. However, he himself has watched the movie. When I told him that I didn’t see Somalis in the movie, he said not only were there not Somalis in the movie, but that the scenery was wrong too because it was filmed in North Africa. He was disappointed in how unrealistic the whole movie was. We didn’t have the time to address how he thought this movie affected American’s perceptions of Somalis.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

June 29: League of MN Cities

My site supervior, Baba, told me that he was presenting at the League of MN Cities Conference about Immigration. I attended the full day seminar by starting the morning at break-out sessions. Personally, I felt the two sessions I attended were a waste of time. The sessions that I had wanted to attend were taken off of the agenda, so there really wasn’t any applicable to the work I am doing.

Connecting Cities and the State- Show Me the Money: Grants and other Funding
This session had some information that wasn’t applicable to me, yet it was interesting. What really got my attention was the presentation by Suzanne from the MN Department of Education. The Library Services and Technology Act funds special programs with no match required and is not to be used for operating costs. The four topic areas are seniors, those in poverty, those who are non-English speakers, and those with disabilities. I am interested in learning more about this, as I know Somalis in every category. I could get books into the library that are by Somali authors and books in Somali.

Our Changing Society- Immigration: Opening New Worlds for Minnesota Cities
The afternoon session was on immigration and the changing demographics in MN. Baba from the St. Cloud Human Rights Office, Don , the mayor of Long Prairie, and Tina from Waseca were the speakers. I helped Baba distribute materials and ran the PowerPoint presentation.
Baba stated the session by talking about the statistics of immigrants/refugees in MN and explained the difference between the two. He then detailed the migration of the major ethnic groups to MN.
Don discussed the Latino population growth and the lack of community acceptance. There was a lot of paranoia and fear in the community. However, this year there has been progress in bridging the two communities. A meeting a couple of weeks ago had more progress than the 14 years. Don’s focus is to build trust, introduce Latinos to the Long Prairie culture and vice versa, and to keep the rumor-mill out of commission.
Tina stated that when working with Somalis and Latinos it is important to establish common ground and to use advocates. She helped create a welcome guide that states the basics for those who may be new to this country. The guide is available in five languages!! She also stressed the importance of people having the opportunity to ask tough questions, and that individuals are entitled to their opinions.
Baba concluded the session by discussion myths of immigration, cultural barriers, and the current situation in St. Cloud. He dispersed a 15 page guide called Immigration in Minnesota: Discovering Common Ground by the Minneapolis Foundation which contained valuable data.~

June 28: Black Hawk Down

I have never watched Black Hawk Down. One reason was because I don’t like war or gory movies, and two, I didn’t want to support a movie that I was told was misrepresentative of the events. However, since I want to dispel myths, I decided to watch it to know what Minnesotans perspectives of the events are.

The movie wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was surprised that the “call to prayer” was included and at appropriate times, that is until the end of the movie. I had heard terrible things about the American soldiers being dragged through the streets, but the scenes were not that bad. I am actually surprised that Hollywood didn’t exaggerate this scene to show Somalis as terrible, ruthless people. I noticed that the Somali people didn’t look like any Somalis I have ever met. I know I haven’t met every Somali, but I didn’t see any physical features, or clothing that I have seen.

Since I am open-minded and know the history and culture of Somalia, it’s easy for me to ignore the misrepresentations. I’ve tried to figure out how the average American would react to the movie, and I think they would view Somalis as ruthless people. The movie also misrepresents the physical characteristics of the people and the land. So, if I am going to educate people in St. Cloud about Somalis, I think I have my work cut out for me.

June 27: Found website with Somali-English

Even though my friends were very discouraging about me learning Somali, I still want to do it. If it ends up being too hard, at least I’ll know that I tried (but I don’t see myself giving up). I’ve searched the internet for free Somali language information, and I found a website, http://iteslj.org/v/so/, with vocabulary and verbs. I called my friend to verify that the site was accurate and it was. This will be a good way for me to learn to write and read, but I’m afraid to start this way because I will be internalizing how I think it sounds. Then it will be harder to learn to speak later. I would like to find someone to do lessons with me. I also ordered a Somali-English dictionary.

June 25: Somali Women

I realized that I have no Somali women friends. I didn’t see or notice any at school when I first started making friends with Somalis. When I did notice them, I was dating a Somali and introduced as such, and I felt that the women didn’t like it. My partner’s mom never approved of any of his Somali girlfriends, so I was prepared for her not to accept me. However, I felt that if I learned the religion and culture that I might be accepted, but I wasn’t. My feelings, attitudes, etc from this experience led me lumping all Somali women into a category of they don’t like me and will never accept me. This is not true and it’s not fair to Somali women. I need to make an effort to reach out to Somali women and learn their stories and experiences which are different from the stories of men I have received. I need to learn this information to truly empower Somalis in St. Cloud. I need to step out of my personal issues and be professional. Also, I’ve never been close to women in general, so I have those issues to deal with as well. I really do value and appreciate Somali women, and I hope to engage with them very soon.

June 24: Social Services

After a discussion in class about classism, I realized that I need to understand how the Social Service programs work for two reasons; one for my own personal reasons, and two for the Somalis. I am a single mom who does not receive child support with no income except my VA benefits while I’m in school. The only government support I received was about $100 a month for food and medical insurance. Somehow I was expected to care for two people on $800 a month. I know that Somali refugees come from terrible situations, but I didn’t and still don’t understand how priorities are given to services. I’m not saying that refugees shouldn’t get services, but I want to know how the system works. I realized that if I have these questions there must be other people who aren’t as open minded as me with the same questions that develop stereotypes and prejudices.

June 22: Lemonade Concert and Art Fair

Silvia mentioned that the Mayor’s High Five Award for Diversity was going to be given to the Whitney Center for the Opening Doors, Building Bridges program, so I attended the Lemonade Concert and Art Fair at SCUS at 7pm. Elders of the Somali community accepted the award with the staff of the Whitney Center. I thought it was great that this program exists, but also that it got recognition. It was a very brief recognition, and I noticed that the only Somalis at the Lemonade Concert were the Somalis that accepted the award.

June 21: Refugee Advisory Mtg

Today I attended the Refugee Advisory Committee Meeting, per the invitation of Julie, one of the contacts that Baba gave me. Below are the notes from the meeting.

I. Attendees: Gary (ISD 742), Patrick (SCTC), Silvia (City of St. Cloud), Stephanie (Goodwill / Easter Seals), Patti (Lutheran Social Service), Renee (Stearns Co.), Jessica (Child Care Choices), Sarah (Human Rights Fellowship), Julie (St. Cloud Refugee Collaborative)

II. Introductions:
Sarah Drake is a Masters student at SCSU; has a fellowship for the summer to work with Baba Odukale and the Human Rights Office on Somali community issues.

III. Announcements / Updates
1. June 20th was World Refugee Day—some events in the Cities.
2. Jessica: the Child Care subcommittee has been discussing ideas for immigrant / multicultural family child care.
3. Silvia: Mayor’s High Five awards. Diversity award will be given to Whitney Center for the Opening Doors, Building Bridges program.
§ Giving classes and teaching skills to Somali elders (ESL, computers, math, etc).
§ It’s going very well—has changed the culture of Whitney; more integrated.
§ Award will be given Thursday June 22nd, 7 pm, Atwood Center at SCSU.

IV. Discussion
1. Working Families Win (Michelle)
a) WFW is nonprofit, nonpartisan group formed in fall 05 in several states.
§ Raise issues of economic disparity—harder for everyone, including middle class
§ Start conversations at policy level and locally—community meetings.
§ Proposals: higher minimum wage, better access to health care, change in trade agreements to benefit people in US and abroad.
§ Local chapters will work on affordable housing and child care and other local issues.
b) St. Cloud meetings:
§ July 11, 7-9 pm at Southside Boys & Girls Club; July 13, 7-9 pm at St. Peter’s Church, 930 31st Ave. N (partnership with GRIP)
§ Tabletop discussion on democracy, focused on economics.
§ Informal multicultural discussion on Mon June 26th, 3-4:30 pm at the Southside Boys & Girls Club.
c) Refugee issues in St. Cloud:
Language / employment:
§ Lack of language. Employers want to hire people who speak some English, but the welfare system doesn’t allow time to learn English.
§ Many employers require 6 months US work experience before they hire.
§ Often entry-level pay isn’t enough to support a large family.
§ It would be good for employers to offer onsite ESL, but they need incentive.
Housing:
§ Moratorium on new rental properties.
§ Lack of available, affordable units for large families.
§ Silvia: City might redefine “family,” make it more difficult for unrelated people to live together. [This idea was defeated—06-22]
Child care:
§ Funding to counties went slightly up.
§ Reimbursement rates were raised for 1st time in 3 years.
d) WFW advocates for “raise in minimum wage” rather than “livable wage” because govt has influence over it; hard to imagine govt mandating livable wage ($15) as minimum wage. Duluth and Mpls have ordinances requiring employers who receive a certain amt of govt funding to pay a livable wage.
e) WFW is hiring a ft organizer in St. Cloud—please get the word out.

2. Immigrant Community Roundtable meetings
Patrick and Julie attended Immigrant Roundtable meeting on June 9th in St. Paul. Good mix of community organizations and govt. Informational and low-key. Other meetings have been attended by FAIR (anti-immigration group).
Ideas for St. Cloud Roundtable:
§ Set aside every third RAC meeting for an Immigrant Roundtable meeting—widen to include immigrants as well as refugees.
§ Ask Hector to facilitate the first few forums.
§ Get anti-immigrant groups to come by sincerely being interested in hearing their concerns—some concerns may be valid.
§ We’ll start a planning group to figure out our next steps.
§ Involve HR Directors (SHRM)—hear their concerns about employing immigrants. ELL Workgroup at Work Force Center had HR director panel on June 1st; 3 HR directors talked about their experiences. Very helpful. Gold n’ Plump recently offered onsite ESL classes for workers. Safely is a concern for employers—OSHA regulations have to be translated for non English-speaking workers.
§ Other groups to involve: Multicultural Center, UMOS. Vietnamese have been here 20 years; pretty integrated. Schools are seeing more Sudanese and Ethiopians arriving from Minneapolis.

3. New refugee arrivals
Things are on hold for many refugees:
§ Material Support clause has widened the definition of “terrorist,” making many refugees ineligible to come to the US—we might see a drop-off.
§ The new president of Liberia says that it’s safe to come back; US wants to support her, so might not let more Liberians come.
§ In Kenya, Somali refugees are having difficulties with registration process. Kenya also may stop letting Somalis in. We may see less Somalis come to US; no drop-off yet.
§ The situation in Somalia is still not clear. If the new group can keep power, things may become more stable. We may see a slow down in arrivals after next year.

V. Next Meeting
We’ll skip July. Starting in August, we’ll try to hold meetings on a specific day and time every month—Julie will email list to find a date.

I was also provided with a list of services available for refugees and immigrants in St. Cloud

Definitions:

HAW= Hands Across the World
SASSO= St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization
LSS= Lutheran Social Service
SCRS=Somali Community Resettlement Services
CMABE=Central Minnesota Adult Basic Education (Includes 13 school districts including St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids-Rice)
SCSU=St. Cloud State University
SCTC=St. Cloud Technical College
CSB/SJU=College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
SBETC=Stearns / Benton Employment & Training Council
SCALS=St. Cloud Area Legal Services
DHS=MN Dept. of Human Services
HRA=Housing Redevelopment Authority

Case management: Helping with forms, making appointments for clients, communicating with other agencies about client, assessing needs and making appropriate referrals; translating / interpreting; education / bridging / mediation.

All programs listed are either targeted toward refugees and immigrants or have made efforts to be accessible to refugees and immigrants; mainstream organizations are not listed.
We listed current services and services likely to begin in the next 6 months.

Employment
ESL for work:
HAW, SCRS, CMABE (Operates the Gold n’ Plump project), Jennie-O

Pre-employment skills (learning to work in the US):
Work Force Center / SBETC, SASSO, HAW, LSS, CMABE

Limited occupational training (short-term training for specific jobs):
SCRS (computers), Good Will Easter Seals (retail, cashiers, stockers), Experience Works (all types of work—subsidized wages for 55 +)

Certificate programs (voc / tech):
SCTC (enrollment of immigrants / refugees—Jodi Elness)
SCSU (enrollment of immigrants / refugees—Julie Condon)

Diploma Programs:
SCSU (some scholarships—Multicultural Student Services)
CSB/SJU (Learning partnership)
CMABE (Adult high school completion credential)

Re-certification (transfer of degrees from another country or re-training):
SCTC, SCSU

Case management:
LSS, SBETC

Job development:
LSS, Goodwill Easter Seals, RISE

ESL
HAW (at Southside Boys & Girls Club and Public Library)
CMABE (St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids)
SCSU (Optional ESL testing; college ESL program and pre-college Intensive English Center)
SCTC
Work Force Center (with CMABE)
SCRS (at La Cruz)
Jennie-O (Melrose)
City of St. Cloud / Whitney Center (classes for elders).

Immigration Services
Legal services:
SCALS (DHS)
Laura Tripiciano (attorney)

International services (family reunification):
LSS

Documents / status changes:
LSS, SASSO, St. Cloud Immigrant Resource Services

Citizenship classes:
HAW, CMABE (Classes operating in both St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids)

Youth Development
After-school programs:
Boys & Girls Club (tutoring, arts, leadership development, computers)
Fast Forward (CSB/SJU, SASSO, Boys & Girls Club—tutoring, mentoring, field trips, retreats)

Crime prevention / rehabilitation:
SASSO (work in youth detention centers / jails, and schools; 12-30 yr olds)
Public schools (Multicultural coordinator, ISD 742—meetings with students)
Law enforcement (coming to schools, meeting with students; crime and drug prevention)
Pastors / SASSO / school dist / UMOS / HAW / NAACP

Sports:
Boys & Girls Club
SASSO (soccer)
SCRS (soccer)
ISD 742
City Recreation Dept.

Arts / Cultural activities:
Islamic Center
Centro Hispano (retreats)
SASSO-literature
United Way
Multicultural Center—special events
Kwanzaa

Services to the elderly (55 +)
Whitney Center, Opening doors / building bridges: employment, computer / ESL classes, exercise, social activities

Experience Works—employment (subsidized wages)

Health
Health care / vaccination providers / public health:
Centra Care, Mid-Minnesota Clinic, St. Cloud Medical Group, Health Partners, Williams Integra Care, Project HEAL, St. Cloud Hospital

Health Education:
Project HEAL
Stearns / Benton County Public Health Departments

Mental Health:
Mental Health Center

Domestic Violence:
Anna Marie’s Shelter
SCALS
Stearns / Benton Counties
Housing Coalition—provides shelters
Place across from Walgreens—sexual violence?

Case management:
SASSO, LSS, SCALS, HAW, CMABE, Counties

Parenting
Day Care:
Child Care Choices, Counties (day care subsidies), friends / relatives.

Early Childhood programs-preschool:
ISD 742 Family Literacy Program
(HAW: Early Childhood ESL offered during adult ESL classes)

Parenting Education:
CMABE Family Literacy Programs (Classes operating in both St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids)

Housing
Public housing / subsidized housing—income-based rent (specific buildings):
HRA (Wilson Apts, Empire Apts)
Catholic Charities (La Cruz)
Housing Coalition
Woodland Apts

Section 8 (voucher-based rent assistance; movable):
HRA

Case management:
Housing Coalition
SASSO

Temporary Shelter:
Housing Coalition
Salvation Army
Anna Marie’s Shelter (domestic violence victims)
Place of Hope
Dream Center (single men)

Market renters (unsubsidized):
INH, Timberland, 727 apts, Afton apts, Sunrise.
(Give informal help, familiar with refugees / immigrants)

Owning a house:
Habitat for Humanity

Legal issues / advocacy:
SCALS
LSS (advocacy)
Human Rights Office
SASSO (advocacy)

Financial services / tax returns
Filing tax returns:
Tri-Cap, MN Dept of Revenue, St. Cloud Immigrant Resource Services

Financial education (how to use a bank…):
Stearns, Benton, and Sherburne Counties

Case management:
LSS, SASSO, SCALS

Transportation
Cars / private transportation (assistance with car repairs; car ownership):
Catholic Charities (?)

Providing rides:
Tri-Cap
Bethlehem Lutheran Church (van for people who are moving)

Public transportation:
Metro Bus—also provides education with “Bus Ambassadors” program
Work Force Center—bus cards for MFIP clients

Drivers Ed:
Friends / relatives

Obtaining drivers license—case management:
SASSO
LSS

Cross cultural / daily living skills / social services (this is the catch-all)
SASSO: Case management; advocacy; cultural education of the greater community
United Way: Cultural education of the greater community
LSS: Case management; advocacy; cultural education of the greater community
HAW: Case management; advocacy; cultural education of the greater community
SCRS:
Multicultural Center: Cultural education—some special events
City Hall Human Rights Division: advocacy
CMABE: Case management; advocacy; cultural education of the greater community

Education on specialized topics: HAW (food health etc…); Project HEAL (health ed.)

June 20: Meeting with Advisor and Doctoral student

Today I met with my advisor Tonya and Patricia. They met on their trip to China, where Tonya realized that Patricia was interested in doing her dissertation on Somalis. Tonya was very excited to get us together to see if we could collaborate on our projects.

Patricia is a mediator and studies alternative dispute resolution and conflict resolution. She has been a mediator at Tech High School between the Somali students and the other students, staff, and parents. She has decided to focus her dissertation on alternative dispute resolution and not the Somali community, but she is interested in helping with and learning about the Somali community.

Patricia is interested in the country history and cultural knowledge I have and in reading my paper on human rights violations in Somalia since 1969. I realized that she can be a resource as a mediator when I do my projects in the community (once I decide what those projects are). We didn’t plan to meet again, other than we would be in touch if we could collaborate on anything.

Tonya shared information on a magnet school in Cities. She has a connection so we can go tour and learn about the institute. She also mentioned the NAFSA Conference that will be in the Cities in May, which would be a great opportunity to present my project.

June 20: World Refugee Day

On World Refugee Day I wanted to talk to as many refugees as I could and welcome them, but unfortunately my schedule didn't allow the opportunities. I went online to the UNHCR website and looked at the gallery of prominent refugees. Two Somalis were represented, Nuruddin Farah and Batulo Mohamed Essak. I have copied and included both stories here. I also found the story of Fatiya Abdullahi in Energy of Nation.

Nuruddin Farah
Rated by The New York Times as the most important African novelist to emerge in the last 25 years, Nuruddin Farah says he was born in a time in Africa's history when the power of speech lay in the oral tradition, in people's tongues rather than in their pens.
Farah's father, a merchant, helped establish a community school in the Ogaden town of Kallafo, then under Ethiopian control, where Farah learnt to read and write. He was later sent to a Christian missionary school. His mother, a poet, had a great influence on the boy, helping him gain access to hidden, creative energies within himself.
Farah started earning money as a translator, interpreter and scribe. At the age of 11 he delivered a speech he wrote for the visit to Somalia of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. While his teachers were overwhelmed by the emperor's presence, the boy gained confidence.
He studied at the University of Panjab, India, from 1966 to 1970, taught at the Somali National University of Mogadishu and left for further studies at the University of London and the University of Essex from 1974 to 1976.
Farah's flight into exile came in 1976, after Somalia came under the rule of the autocratic Marxist, Mohammed Said Barre. While visiting Italy, Farah was warned by telephone not to return to Somalia. His novel, "A Naked Needle", was being described as treason in Mogadishu. His later work includes a trilogy titled "Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship".
Farah said then that if he couldn't return home, then he would make the rest of Africa his country. He served as associate professor at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and lectured at the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He also held the post of writer-in-residence at the Royal Court Theatre in London and was guest professor at universities in Africa, Europe and the United States.
Most of his novels are set in Somalia, and explore political themes. They reflect the ills of misrule in Somalia and vividly capture African politics elsewhere. In 1981, Farah gave a series of readings at a conference in Frankfurt devoted to Commonwealth writers, which caught the audience's attention with his distinctive narrative technique.
Farah has won several literary awards, including the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature (sponsored by the University of Oklahoma). His work is now the subject of study in itself, for example in Derek Wright's book, "The Novels of Nuruddin Farah".
Among his recent writing is "Yesterday, Tomorrow ", a compilation of interviews conducted with refugees, for which he travelled widely across Africa and Europe.

Batulo Mohamed Essak
Batulo Mohamed Essak found herself far from her sunny Somali home, resettled as a refugee in Lapland, yet she managed to adapt her life and skills to her new situation.
The daughter of a Somali diplomat, Essak finished school in Somalia and moved to Moscow to study nursing. When war broke out in her home country, she decided to flee to Finland. Arriving by boat in 1991, Essak was housed in the Lapinjrvi refugee camp, in the southern part of the country. There she learned Finnish so as to communicate with the local community, which stood her in good stead when she was resettled in the northern town of Kemi, in Lapland.
Initially it was not easy to adapt, and the language difficulty was only part of the problem. Essak had qualified as a midwife in Moscow, but her diploma was not valid in Finland. She decided to go back to studying to acquire Finnish qualifications. She was able to re-register as a midwife in 1995. From 1995 to 1998, she worked at the Woman's Clinic in Helsinki, where she had also done her practical training.
However, when her contract ended, Essak could not find a job in her chosen profession. So she used her language skills and began working as a freelance translator for Somalis arriving in Finland, helping them apply for unemployment and other benefits.
Essak feels she was lucky to have received an education in Somalia and in Russia. This brought her to work on a long-term project in adult education for Somali women. She provides information on health education, pregnancy, childbirth, post-natal care, women's diseases and mental health. She helps Somali women integrate in the Finnish community.
Essak has also held lectures in Finland about Somali culture. She currently works full time as a translator for Vantaa Region Community Centre, but hopes to return to work as a midwife, the job she loves.

June 18: More Research

After my trip to the Somali Mall, I was sparked to do more research. I found the following sources:

Somali Specific Sources


Refugee & Immigrant Sources


  • Growing up in a New Country: A Positive Youth Development Toolkit for Working with Refugees and Immigrants from Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services
  • Immigration in MN: Challenges and Opportunities from the League of Women Voters of MN

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

June 17- Karmel Somali Mall

The purpose of my trip to the Somali Mall was to meet with Hussein to discuss the non-profit organization he is creating for an after school program in which Somali children can access computers with software to learn English and other skills to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind. I also helped him create the bilaws and constitution. I will be helping him write grants for funding once the 501c3 status is established.

I have been to Karmel Mall about 4 times and still feel a little uncomfortable. I’m the only white person I’ve ever seen there. I’m not uncomfortable with that fact, but uncomfortable with the idea that my presence makes other people uncomfortable. Some people don’t seem care, some look at me funny, some smile, but I guess I don’t feel welcome. I guess I know how many Somalis feel coming here!

We went to the little café and got some snacks to eat. We got sambusa, which I’ve had before and enjoy, but it was a little spicy for me. There was a boiled egg in potato (I can’t remember what it’s called) which I liked. There was a pastry I didn’t like, and it was the first Somali food I’ve tried that I didn’t like. I usually really like the food, with the exception that sometimes it’s too spicy for me, but I still like the flavor.

I talked to three of my friends there about learning Somali. They were discouraging and told me to learn Swahili because Somali is too hard to learn. If they weren’t my friends I would probably think that’s code for “we aren’t going to share our culture” but that’s not what they meant. They said many Somalis know Swahili, but to me, that’s the language of being a refugee. Personally, I feel that speaking in Swahili would be a reminder that they are refugees. If I’m going to make the effort to learn a language in order to communicate with Somalis, I think it should be Somali. Also, many PhD programs I’ve looked at want a foreign language in the area you are studying, so it would be appropriate that I learn Somali.

While the guys were on the computer, I saw an advertisement for Somali Education, but it occurred the night before. I emailed the story to myself so that I can contact the organizers to find out about the event, and see if it’s something that I can apply to my work in St. Cloud.

I found an African Journal Newspaper in the office which contained many articles and advertising with good knowledge base information. It didn’t have any info that would be helpful to incorporate into a project, but it was good info to help me understand the community I am working with. It also listed a number of places where I can engage the Somali culture.

While on the computer we found the University of Pennsylvania and their African Studies site. They listed many resources and links about Somalia, language, culture, etc. We also looked at two famous Somalis; Rageh Omaar who is a BBC reporter, and Nuruddin Farah who is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.

We went to eat at a restaurant across the street from the mall. The restaurant was a large room with a lot of space, and then there was a wall partition and small space off to the left. The two Somali men I was with went and sat in the smaller space. There were no women or children in the restaurant, and I was about to ask why were sitting in this area, when I realized that this area was probably for women and children. I didn’t ask at the time, but later I asked a different friend about it and he confirmed. He was surprised that I waited that long to talk about it. I am knowledgeable about Islam so I know it’s not an oppressive religion to women, but I am curious about this practice.

My friend received a phone call and asked me to talk to his friend on the phone. I started to talk a little bit quieter and the person on the other line asked why I was getting quiet. I told him it was prayer time and the mosque was located across the hall. He said that was very nice of me to be respectful, and I said it’s not even something I think about, I just do it.

It was a very educational and information filled day. My friends are open and share information with me freely which I am grateful for. I do however have my self-esteem issues and comfort levels to deal with while I am at the mall. I am aware of the fact that I am someone who is studying a culture, and what right do I have to do that. Also, I have to consider where these people have come from and the journey and struggles that brought them here and that they have the right to be distrusting of me. However, I would love to find a way to get them to trust me and see that I am an ally for their community.

June 16: Juneteenth

On Friday, June 16, St. Cloud celebrated Juneteenth. The celebration is in commemoration of the anniversary of freed black slaves in Texas who discovered two years after the Emancipation Proclamation between June 13 and June 19 of 1865 that they were free. The event was sponsored by the African American Male Forum of St. Cloud, in conjunction with the SCSU Ethnic Studies Department and SCSU Multicultural Students Services, N.A.P.S., N.A.A.C.P. and NuWay Baptist Church. There was an old-fashioned cookout and grilling, games and other recreational activities for kids, and African-American and African arts and crafts.

I went in hopes of learning about this history, but also hoping that I would meet Somali community members to talk to about my project. Unfortunately, there were no Somalis and heavy rains put a damper on the events.

June 15- Mtg with Human Rights Commission Member

On June 15, I met with Kevin, who is a member of the Human Rights Commission and The Center for Service-Learning and Social Change. He is one of the people Baba referred me to. The Human Rights Commission is specific to St. Cloud, and they monitor and educate the community on human rights. They also sponsor the Annual Human Rights Day of Observance. Previously they have shown The Letter, a documentary about Somali issues in a town in Maine.

Kevin then told me about other organizations in St. Cloud that do or may work with Somali community. Some were NAACP, CARD, CARE, SASSO, Southside Boys & Girls Club, and MN Workforce Center. Betty at the United Way worked on a project in the past to connect/educate the community about Somalis. He also said that the United Way does an orientation for new arrivals. St. Johns and St. Bens have done service learning projects, one of which became a book about the Somali community, and worked on access to post secondary education. Gary is the Multicultural person for District 742. St. Johns, St. Bens, and SCSU are working with La Cruz to work on access to higher education.

When I asked Kevin what projects he would like to see me work on he said EMPOWERMENT! Refugees and immigrants need ESL/ELL classes, training and skills to obtain employment. He also mentioned how many Somalis are educated, but they are not obtaining jobs in the areas they are skilled in because of language barriers or different licensing/degree requirements.

Research, Research, Research

I have spent the first week (June 13) of my fellowship doing research. I want to know what programs are or have been in place in St. Cloud and surrounding communities specifically for the Somalis or that maybe accessed by Somalis. I want to know has and has not worked, and also what ideas are in the works. By doing this, I learn from the past to improve the future.

I also researched literature and websites to gain content knowledge about Somalis, immigration, refugees, and the like. I read the Upper Midwest Orientation Handbook, as it contains many interesting and applicable articles to refugees and facilitation, which is something that I think I will be doing.

My assumption going into this project was that there were no or few programs and services available for Somali Immigrants and Refugees. I also figured that I would be spending my fellowship money on creating a program or non-profit organization for Immigrants and Refugees. However, I have already discovered that in fact there are programs in existence, but I just didn’t know about them. This realization really excited me. But, it also made me wonder if those who want or require the services know that they are available. I hope so!

I registered to attend the League of MN Cities Annual Conference, being held here in St. Cloud. Baba is going to be doing a presentation on immigration. I also registered for a Spanish Library session on July 14, to see what the MN library system is doing for Spanish speakers, in hopes of applying it to the Somali Community.

Refugee & Immigrant Sources
1. MN Advocates for Human Rights http://www.mnadvocates.org/
§ The Energy of a Nation: Immigrants in America
2. Eftin- Immigrant led, provides services to immigrants in Dakota County http://www.eftin.org/
3. American Refugee Committee http://www.arcrelief.org/
4. Immigration Law Center of MN http://www.immigrantlawcentermn.org/ilcm.htm
5. Immigration History Research Center http://www.ihrc.umn.edu/
6. Minnesota State Demographic Center http://www.demography.state.mn.us/
7. I Feel at Home- Documentary on families who went back to Somaliland
8. Articles on borders, word usage, 50 year history, and human rights violations
9. http://www.somalism.com/ – videos/documentaries
Colonial powers and Barre used clans against each other
Historically tension, but now weapons
People smuggling- $50 per person, major risks for boat ride but take gamble to escape persecution, violence, for better life
10. Center for Research & Dialogue http://www.crdsomalia.org/
§ Highlight plight of Somalis
11. The UN Refugee Agency/ UNHCR- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home
12. The State of the World’s Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium (2006)
13. Refugees Magazine
14. International Mutual Assistance Association (Rochester) http://www.imaa.net/
15. International Journal of Refugee Law http://ijrl.oxfordjournals.org/
16. Center for Gender & Refugee Studies http://cgrs.uchastings.edu/country/links.php
17. Refugee Manipulation: War, Politics, and the Abuse of Human Suffering by Fred Tanner
18. U of M Human Rights Library http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/
19. Law of Asylum in the U.S. by Deborah E. Anker
20. International Refugee Rights Initiative http://www.refugee-rights.org/
21. Refugee Rights News
§ When going home is a tough choice
22. Journal of Refugee Studies
23. International Emergency & Refugee Health Branch of the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ierh/
24. Forced Migration Online http://www.forcedmigration.org/
25. Centre for Refugee Studies @ York Universite http://www.yorku.ca/crs/
26. Center for Migration Studies http://cmsny.org/
27. June 20, 2006- World Refugee Day

Education & Bridging Sources
28. http://www.teachingforchange.org/ - teaching about Immigration and organizing
29. Human Rights Education Association http://www.hrea.org/learn/guides/refugees.html
30. Uprooting Racism: How White People can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel
31. Teaching Tolerance http://www.tolerance.org/
32. Understanding Race and Ethnic Relations by Vincent Parrillo
33. Readings for Diversity and Social Justice: An Anthology on Racism, Antisemitism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Ableism, and Classism, Pages447-98 “Working for Social Justice: Visions and Strategies for Change”
34. Teaching for Diversity and Social Change: A Sourcebook edited by Adams, Bell, Griffin
35. Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice edited by Bigelow, Harvey, Karp, Miller
36. Measuring Attitudes Cross-Nationally

Somali Specific Sources
37. Somali Student Association @ SCSU
38. Somali Independence Day celebration- July 1, http://www.hiiraan.com/ad/2006/MN/Awes_Khamiis.html

General Reference
39. Pambazuka News (African Social Justice News) http://www.pambazuka.org/en/
40. Somalia Online- Somali news http://somaliaonline.com/
41. Hiiraan- Somali news http://www.hiiraan.com/

May 26 Meeting about Fellowship

Before my fellowship started, Baba, the director at the Human Rights Office, and I, met on May 26 to discuss the project. He gave me connections with community members who could be good resources. I was given six names, all of whom I emailed and began correspondence with in hopes of receiving some information or help for the fellowship.

The ideas for projects that Baba and I discussed are:
a. Dispelling myths
b. Address the problems in schools
c. Employment issues
d. Parents and the media role
e. Expand on the Senior Center project
f. Women here 5 years, no more assistance, but have no skills to get job
g. Looking at the This is My Home project

It is ultimately up to me what project(s) I decide to work on. I am going to research what is already in existence, what has been in the past, what works, what doesn’t work, etc., so that I can get a feel of what is already out there and not duplicate efforts, or try something that already didn’t work. After that I will decide what project(s) to do.