Video for speech language therapists on working with Somali families

Sirad Shirdon, one of my doctoral students, recently produced a narrated slideshow video for the 2012 American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) conference on cultural considerations in working with Somali families. Check it out at and spread the word to any speech and language therapist you know.

Somali Studies for Educators at SSIA 2012

The Somali Studies for Educators project (teacher workshop, DVDs, website) was presented on October 11th at the Somali Studies International Association Congress 2012 in Lillehammer, Norway. The presentation ‘The Somali Studies for Educators Project at the Ohio State University’ was made by Sirad Shirdon on behalf of Laura Joseph and me. Sirad also presented her own paper, ‘The Educational Experiences of Urban Somali Refugee Children in Kenya’, as part of the same panel, Education: Who? How? Where?’

Nuruddin Farah at OSU

On September 13th, Nuruddin Farah will speak at OSU. The title of his lecture is “Remembering Somalia: A Writer Speaks”. This thirteenth annual Diversity Lecture & Cultural Arts Series event will be held at 4:30 pm in Saxbe Auditorium, Drinko Hall, 55 West 12th Avenue. A reception and book signing will immediately follow the lecture. RSVP:

Invited Talk at University of Wisconsin Green Bay

On April 19th I will give at talk at UWGB on my research, outreach, and engagement with children and families of the Somali diaspora. Building on repertoires of practice as the conceptual core, I will discuss my research on language and literacy development and the Somali Studies for Educators project. The talk is one of the University’s Common Theme events and is sponsored by Psychology and Human Development, the Psi Chi honor society, and the academic unit in Anthropology.

Somali Studies for Educators website is live!

At long last, the Somali Studies for Educators website went live in late February. The site grew out of a 2009 teachers’ workshop held in Columbus, Ohio, which was initiated by The Ohio State University. Somali Studies for Educators offers many resources, including workshop syllabi, a growing list of online resources, and selected video clips from the 2009 workshop. These clips are organized into themes: identity, arts, family, education, language, and global cross-currents. We are still cleaning up a bit after the site’s migration from the development server, so please forgive any glitches.

Somali-American Buckeyes honored by White House as Champions of Change

On January 30th, the White House honored as Champions of Change 14 leaders in American Diaspora communities with roots in the Horn of Africa. Three of the honorees were Buckeyes. Abdi Roble is the founder and Executive Director of the Somali Documentary Project and Visiting Scholar at OSU’s Center for African Studies. Sagal Ali (BA in English from OSU) serves as a Program Lead with the Ready to Read Corps of Columbus Metropolitan Library where she works to educate low-income families on how to prepare their children for school and a better future. Ilhan Dahir, an OSU undergrad, is the founder and president of Interfaith Service Youth Corps. Watch the White House press conference (Sagal speaks at 14:30, Ilhan speaks at 32:50, Abdi speaks at 1:15:35) or read Abdi’s essay.

OSU job announcement: Asst Prof Somali language & culture

The Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) at The Ohio State University invites applications for tenure-track Assistant professor to teach courses in Somali language and culture beginning in fall 2012. Native or near native command of Somali is expected since the candidate will teach beginning, intermediate, advanced, and conversation courses in the language. The candidate’s area of specialization could include the following: Applied Linguistics, Foreign Language Education, Sociolinguistics, or related disciplines. For more information, see the announcement in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Somalia at Crossroads Conference at OSU

January 27 and 28, OSU is hosting a conference to deepen public discourse and understanding of the complex situation in Somalia. Issues to be discussed include the national roadmap, piracy, humanitarian crisis, frontline state military interventions, Diaspora remittance challenges, and community development issues. The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, see the Mershon Center announcement and video or got to the local events calendar of the Center for African Studies to download the program.

New article in Language Arts

A new article of mine, “Moving across languages, literacies, and schooling traditions”, has just come out in Language Arts, part of a special issue ‘Remaking Literacies across Time and Place’. Click here for contents of the issue. In this article I draw upon my research in the Maroua Fulbe community in northern Cameroon and in the Somali immigrant-refugee community in Columbus to provide insights into the schooling and literacy experiences Somali children and other Muslim immigrants may bring to public school from their other school. I first discuss Qur’anic schooling in the Fulbe community, describing the organization and the significance of this schooling tradition for participants, as well as the recent rise of double schooling and changes in Islamic educational practice. I then shift my focus to the Somali immigrant-refugee community in Columbus, discussing changes in Qur’anic schooling that have arisen in this diasporic context. After discussing how Qur’anic school experiences may affect Muslim language-minority children’s second language and literacy learning in public school, I conclude with reflections on how knowledge of Qur’anic schooling and Qur’anic school-based literacies might impact the practices of public elementary school educators.