Picture THE SOMALI POPULATION IN COLUMBUS, OHIO A presentation by Students for Community Cultural Awareness Introduction to the Organization Students for Community Cultural Awareness was formed this year It’spurpose is to raise cultural awareness about immigrant populations in the Columbus community Currently the organization is focusing on the Somali population as it is the largest immigrant/refugee population in Columbus. The organization has held events such as: movie discussions, informational presentations such as this one, and two Conversation Nights aimed at promoting inter- cultural communication Historical Context of the Somali Immigration Movement The Somali Population in Columbus Introduction The Somali population began to come to Ohio in 1994 Since 1994 the yearly number of Somalis immigrating has continued to increase. Issues facing Somali refugees in Columbus Diaspora Prejudices or Discrimination, especially in the community Language barriers Religious intolerance Lack of services- housing, education, ESL classes The Somali Population in Columbus Basic Statistics Columbus is the country’s second largest settlement of Somali refugees. Minnesota is first and Seattle is third. According to the Somali Community Association of Ohio: 35,000+ Somali refugee/immigrants live in Columbus 7% of Somali persons speak English well enough to get a job 75% of Somalis are eligible for citizenship 15% have become citizens 99.9% of Somalis are Muslims 80% of Somalis live with their families A large amount of families are headed by women (33%+) History of the Immigration Movement Why did Somalis leave Somalia? In 1991, the president of Somalia, Siad Barre was ousted from the position by a militant, Mohamed Farah Aideed. Aideed formed a pseudo-government with eight ministers who essentially became warlords of their areas and caused a civil war The UN came into Somalia in response, but their efforts were seen as damaging and Somalis became resistant Since 1991, 350,000-1 million Somalis have been killed Somali Refugees Somalis have left their home country due to political and civil unrest in their country. There are 350,000 Somali refugees in the world Somali refugees are resettled in Kenya, Yemen, United Kingdom, United States, Ethiopia and other countries. In 2005, 30,000 Somali refugees came to the United States Why Columbus? When Somalis first began immigrating to the United States the main two states were Virginia and Minnesota. Somalis who were living in Virginia began to look for a new place to live because the cost of living was so high and there were few jobs. Several Somalis moved to Columbus because of the availability of warehouse and factory jobs. Also, rent prices were much cheaper. Word spread through families and friends and soon Columbus became one of the foremost destinations for Somali refugees. Basic Social and Cultural Norm Information A lot of the social and cultural norms of the Somali population comes from being Muslims which I will discuss later Social and Cultural Norms Opposite-sex contact Emphasis on family unit, care for extended family Hard work, sending money to family in Somalia Current State of Affairs Employment, Health, Education, & City Adaption Employment A major issue for Somali refugees is finding employment. Many Somalis own their own businesses or work at warehouse jobs in Columbus Global Mall on Morse Road Some people in the community are concerned that the Somali population is taking all of the available jobs in Columbus In 2006, Franklin County’s unemployment rate was 4.8% (at the time the state’s unemployment rate was 5.1%) Health Care Many Somali refugees are unable to receive the medical attention that they need due to the high costs of health care and the lack of culturally competent services Columbus’ Hospitals and Health Care facilities have begun to address the need for translation services Education Columbus Public Schools have been overwhelmed by the increase in Somali students over the past several years Nearly every school in Columbus has an ESL class that serves Somali students According to Columbus Public School’s website 3% of student’s parents speak another language besides English (around 2000 students) Many ESL teachers do not speak Somali and are forced to teach the students without any use of their primary language City Adaption Mayor Coleman has created the New American Initiative under the Community Relations Commission According to its website the purpose of the initiative is to: “give all immigrant and refugees living in Columbus access to city services and programs to help improve their lives. This initiative gives equal opportunity to all refugees and immigrants and allows them to become responsible, productive residents of Columbus” The commission is looking at problems with housing, language barriers, health care, education, and discrimination This is the first city wide initiative to look at problems facing Somali refugees in Columbus Columbus’ Perception Events and attitudes that have shaped the current perception about the Somali population How are Somalis seen in Columbus? Two Sides to the Issue Most Columbus’ residents are welcoming and accepting of the Somali population. However, there is a significant amount of the population who does not want the Somali population to live in Columbus. Thismay stem from misconceptions about public assistance, job opportunities, and cultural and social norms. The next several slides focus on the negative occurrences that have happened in Columbus but it is important to look at the attitudes of Columbus residents. Somalis in Columbus What is the public perception? Somali accused of plot to blow up Ohio mall By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | June 15, 2004 WASHINGTON -- A Somalia native living in Ohio as a refugee allegedly plotted with an Al Qaeda cell to blow up a Columbus- area shopping mall, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday and announced at a news conference here by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Mentally ill Somali immigrant fatally shot in confrontation Associated Press Dec. 30, 2005 | 12:00 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio - A deputy shot a mentally ill African immigrant to death when he lunged with a knife at officers who had come to take him to a psychiatric center, authorities said. Black Hawk Down This movie is about the UN American Troops who were killed in Mogadishu (the capital of Somalia) (2001) Quotes from an Online Forum “The somalis hunt in the city parks and have killed the deer and roasted them in the shopping center parking lot, over an open fire.” “The deadly, cancerous African gene pool slowly and steadily continues to spread everywhere…” “Will someone please tell me: how are these people coming here? Who is paying their way here and who decides who comes, how many and where they go? Where they should go is Manhattan Island and all the plush towns in the smug Northeast where they think mass immigration and diversity is great. Bob L.” Why do these opinions matter? The racist and misinformed quotes from the online forum are hurtful, but they also demonstrate the work that needs to be done in Columbus to promote cultural awareness and understanding. Without acknowledging that many Columbus residents are unhappy with the Somali population living in Columbus then we cannot properly address the needs of the population Islam Islam As stated previously, Somalis are 99.9% Muslim For Americans it is hard to understand fully the importance of Islam to Muslims because of the way that we view religion; as a separate part of our lives However, for most Muslims there is no separation between their religion and their sense of self and culture. Islam has very set rules and duties that Muslims must follow 5 Pillars of Islam Shahadah: It’s basic tenet is: "ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh“ This means: I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." Salah: Ritual prayer that must be made five times a day facing Mecca Zakat: Giving to those in need Sawm: Fasting during the month of Ramadan Ramadan occurs once a year and the month and day varies from year to year. The sight of the crescent moon marks the start of Ramadan. In 2007, Ramadan will be in September. Hajj: It is expected that all Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetimes Why is Islam a factor in the Cultural Understanding of Somalis? One of the largest components of cultural awareness of the Somali population is their religion Many people are unaware of the religious practices such as praying five times a day which has led to some problems After September 11th many Americans placed the blame on Muslims and because of their close proximity, Somalis in Columbus were sometimes targeted. The Islamic Center in Columbus has never gone more then two weeks before some sort of vandalism has occurred on their property. Ohio State’s Role OSU’s Involvement and Reaction Currently estimates of the number of Somali students attending OSU are 200. Estimates of Columbus State’s Somali student population are around 2,000. The African Language department this year began to offer Somali language courses on a limited basis Few departments and centers on campus have organized programming or services to specifically address the Somali population Research has also been slow to start regarding the Somali population Why is Ohio State behind? Compared to the University of Minnesota and Columbus State, Ohio State is behind in addressing the needs of Somali students and recruitment of Somali students to attend. Why? OSU Student’s Involvement I believe that a lot of the lack of services and programming at Ohio State stems from students having a low interest in the population. Prior to the creation of this student organization the only organization that was looking at issues of immigrant populations in Columbus were individual ethnic groups such as the Somali Student Association Why doesn’t the average OSU student care about the Somali population? Why do OSU Students have a lack of interest? Many students are flat-out unaware of the population. Most of the Somali population lives in Northeast Columbus and if students are not driving to these areas they might not be aware Stemming from the lack of awareness, there are few University sponsored programs and information given to OSU students about the Somali population Some students may not realize the significance of the population, i.e. that the population will most likely be a part of their future if they chose to remain in Columbus Students for Community Cultural Awareness I created this organization this year to address these concerns. Many OSU students are interning, working, and volunteering in Columbus and are unaware of the population. SCCA’s purpose is to promote cultural awareness of the Somali population for several reasons: Promoting cultural diversity and tolerance Increasing the professional development of OSU students Increasing OSU’s attractiveness for Columbus immigrant/refugee population high school students What Next? Next year SCCA will be hosting the following events: Autumn Quarter- Film screening series during the months of September, October, and November, membership drives Winter Quarter- Working with Somali refugees, professional development conference Spring Quarter- What does it mean to be a refugee? Informational session Fundraising for the Friends of Dadaab The Big Picture The purpose of SCCA is to increase cultural awareness The only way that can be achieved is by having students, faculty, and staff work together to ensure that Ohio State values immigrant populations in Columbus and is working on promoting cultural awareness as well as increased access to OSU What can you do to help? Join the SCCA Attend New American Initiative programs Encourage OSU to welcome the population THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME! IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR FEEDBACK PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK! Contact: My e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization’s address: email@example.com Organization’s web-site: www.geocities.com/s4cca
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