OSU Somali Course Wiki

The OSU Somali Course wiki is now public. The ever evolving wiki provides information on the K12 teachers workshop offered in June 2009, EDU T&L 727O28 Somali History, Language, and Culture. You will find many resources, including readings and viewings, web resources, powerpoint presentations, and participants’ final projects.

Minister of Diaspora & Somali Communities visits OSU

The Minister of Diaspora & Somali Communities Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle (Azhari) visited OSU today. This visit was part of his tour of Somali communities in North America. He spoke in Somali to a largely Somali audience, and Q&A session followed his talk. Interpreting was done by Omar Hashi of the OSU Somali Students Association, with some input from the audience. I was particularly interested in the Minister’s announcement that his Ministry will soon establish centers in cities with large Somali populations, including Columbus. Audience members proposed potential functions for these centers, such as serving as “cultural sites” to promote Somali language and culture, and connecting Somali youth in Somalia and the diaspora for discussion of how to rebuild Somalia.

Teacher Institute on Somali History, Language, & Culture

This summer I am leading a week-long course for K12 educators. The course provides an overview of Somali history, language, and culture that will increase your understanding of the children, youth, and families of the Somali Diaspora. Developed in collaboration with members of the Somali community and Columbus City Schools, the course is designed to answer questions and address needs identified by educators, parents, students, and community organizers. Several Somali Studies scholars and community activists and practitioners will share their expertise and experiences. The course will be held June 15-19, 9-4:30. It is hosted by the Somali Women & Children’s Alliance, facilitated by EHE’s Office of Outreach and Engagement, and sponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council and the U.S. Department of Education. For more information, visit the website of OSU’s Center for African Studies.

Somali Immigrants & Charter Schools

This week the New York Times ran an article ‘Immigrants See Charter Schools as a Haven’ in which they focused on Somali immigrants living in Minneapolis. (Minneapolis is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S., and Columbus is home to the second largest.) Check out the slide show linked to the article. The article portrays the immigrant parents as wanting their children to develop strong dual identities (American and Somali) and multilingual competence, sheltered from American youth culture. Interestingly, the article does not mention that students study Arabic at the charter school.

Ohio Humanities Council Grant for Teacher Institute

With Laura Joseph, Assistant Director of the Center for African Studies, I have been awarded a Ohio Humanities Council Grant ($15,000) for the development, digital documentation & dissemination of K-12 Teachers Institute on Somali history, language, & culture. The Center of African Studies has also granted us $8000 from their UISFL (Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language) grant from the US Department of Education. The institute will be held in June 2009, hosted by the Somali Women & Children’s Alliance and facilitated by EHE’s Office of Outreach and Engagement.

New Article in Text & Talk

An article of mine, Body, text, and talk in Maroua Fulbe Qur’anic schooling, has appeared in Text & Talk. It is part of a special issue, The spirit of reading: practices of reading sacred texts, edited by Laura Sterponi, UC Berkeley. In this article, I present a language socialization approach to the study of Qur’anic schooling. Integrating insights from holistic study of the community and the institution, analysis of video recordings of Qur’anic school interaction, and video playback and interviews with community members, I describe the apprenticeship of Fulbe children into Qur’anic orality and literacy as a gradual transfer of responsibility for rendering the sacred text. I conclude by discussing how the language socialization perspective and attention to multiple modalities increase our understanding of Qur’anic schooling as an activity setting in which Muslim subjectivities come into being.