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Peace Studies Conference to address concerns of Somali community in state

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August 14, 2017

Jaylani Hussein

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The 30th annual Peace Studies Conference, “Moving Beyond Stereotypes: The Somali Community in Minnesota,” is on Tuesday, Sept. 12, in room 204, Gorecki Center, College of Saint Benedict. The event is free and open to the public.

The conference will encompass a day of events including a keynote speech, two panel discussions, a book signing and nonprofit information tables. It seeks to strengthen the relationship and develop a better understanding between the Somali and St. Cloud communities, and Minnesota at large.

The event’s keynote speaker is Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). Hussein’s speech, “The State of Civil Rights for Somalis and Other Muslims in Minnesota,” is at 7:30 p.m.

Hussein immigrated to the United States from Somali in 1993. He attended St. Cloud State University and North Dakota State University. Hussein has been featured in the Star Tribune and St. Cloud Times newspapers, and Minnesota Public Radio.

CAIR-MN’s mission is to “enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding,” according to its website.

The first panel discussion, “An Overview of the Somali Community in Central Minnesota,” will be from 1:05-2:25 p.m. The panel will include CSB alumna Hudda Ibrahim ’13, who is a faculty member at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, a board member of the Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization and author; SJU student Abdirizak Jama, representing Cultural Bridges of St. Joseph, Minnesota; Jama Alimad, a site manager at La Cruz Community Center; and Tammy Wilson, principal at Discovery Elementary School in St. Cloud.

The second panel discussion, “Somalis, Muslims and Education,” will be from 2:40-4 p.m. The panel will include co-authors Terri Rodriguez, associate professor of education at CSB/SJU, and Nihat Polat from Duquesne University; Susan Cogdill, assistant professor of music at CSB/SJU; Lauren Thoma, ELS teacher from Apollo High School in St. Cloud; Farhiya Bille, ELS paraprofessional from Apollo High School; and Kirstin Ruth Bratt from St. Cloud State University.

The book signing will take place from 4:15-5:15 p.m. Ibrahm will be signing her book, “From Somali to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis;” Rodriguez and Polat will be signing their book, “Supporting Muslim Students: A Guide to Understanding the Diverse Issues of Today’s Classrooms;” and Wilson will be signing her book, “Through My Eyes.”

The event is co-sponsored by the CSB/SJU Department of Peace Studies; CSB Campus Ministry;  the Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization; the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning; the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement; CSB/SJU Intercultural and International Student Services; and Cultural Bridges.