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Have you heard My story?

Somali community members tell their stories.


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A Conversation with the Somali Community, was the first This is My Story event this school year.  This is My Story is a series of discussions with a panel of community members who talk about their racial and cultural identities from childhood, through their education and to their present professions. There will be two more This is My Story events this fall. The next one is November 2 and will be “A Conversation with the Hmong Community” and the second will be December 7 and will be “A Conversation with the Hispanic/Latino Community.” They convene in Giddens Learning Center room 100E during convocation hour.

The three panelists, Osman Ahmed, a graduate student at Augsburg College and an Alumni Leadership Award winner from the University of Minnesota, Saida Hassan, a University of Minnesota alumni, and current elementary school staff member and Abdullah Bashir, a University of Minnesota alumni and current language arts teacher, discussed family life when they were children, issues in the education system and incidents of injustices throughout their lives. Before they came to the United States, they had not known the idea of race. It took some time for them to adjust to the idea but it was not hard to see that they would have barriers to get over in their lives here.

        One panelist, Hassan, talked about an incident at the University of Minnesota when she was attending, where she had been put into a group in her Physics and Education class. In these groups your individual grade depended on the group’s grade.

“I would be in these groups and no one would hear my voice or no one would ask,” Hassan said. “‘Hey Saida what do you think?’ They would talk right through me.”

The other students in the group would dismiss her during group quizzes and Hassan would know that the group was getting the answers wrong, but nobody would listen to her. Her grade ended up suffering because those groupmates would not hear her. Even the professor would not listen when she voiced her concerns about how she was being treated.

“So the professors not paying attention to me, he’s putting stuff together but he said, This is how the real world’s gonna be. You better figure [it] out because I don’t care for it and he walks away from me.”

        This led to a discussion about faculty reflecting the student population. This conversation really stood out to Hamline Senior Nadia Mohammed.

“[The event was a good] way for other faculty and members of the staff [of Hamline] to see what [the] Somali community is like and what the experiences of Somali people are,” Mohammed said.

Of the small crowd sitting in the audience, the University staff made up more than half. As for the event, she said, “it was very inspiring.” She felt a strong connection to the panelists, being from the Somali community herself.

        “There’s been too many times when other people have been telling their story, my story, anyone’s story and so it’s important to not let others take advantage of your experiences and to take your voice.” Tenzin Kunkyi, Hamline Senior said as she described what this event meant to her.

Hearing these panelists stories’ in their own voices is what This is My Story is about. According to the Hamline Events webpage, attendees will hear conversations that “explore issues of diversity, social justice, cross-cultural alliances, reconciliation and inclusion.”

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Have you heard My story?