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A presentation by Students for Community Cultural
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
   The Somali population began to come to Ohio in
   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
     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
                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
   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
   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
   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
   A major issue for Somali refugees is finding
   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
       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
   Columbus Public Schools have been overwhelmed by
    the increase in Somali students over the past several
   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
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
   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
       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
   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
   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
   However, for most Muslims there is no separation
    between their religion and their sense of self and
   Islam has very set rules and duties that Muslims must
                     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
   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
 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
   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
   I created this organization this year to address these
   Many OSU students are interning, working, and
    volunteering in Columbus and are unaware of the
   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
     Autumn  Quarter- Film screening series during the months
      of September, October, and November, membership
     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

My e-mail address:
Organization’s address:
Organization’s web-site:

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