Sixth global conference celebrates Somali history, culture

by admin | Tuesday, Oct 11, 2016 | 316 views

Attendees of the South Central College Global Connections Conference can taste sambusa, watch the world premier of a documentary, learn about the pioneering government of Somali, shop for handcrafted items and watch Somali dancers.

Held every other year, the global conference highlights an assortment of international and immigration issues. The main events of each conference celebrate one geographic region and/or culture. The focus of the 2016 conference Thursday is Somalia.

“I just felt it was a really important culture to do given the growing population in Minnesota and Mankato,” said SCC instructor and conference coordinator Amy Magnus.

 The conference commences with a keynote speech from Abdi Samatar, a professor at Macalester College and dean of its Institute of Global Citizenship. He will speak about the legacy of democracy in Somalia and its impact on Africa. Samatar has written a book on the topic. The professor also spoke at the first Global Connections Conference in 2007 “and we’re very excited to have him back,” Magnus said.

SCC’s culinary students and instructors are preparing a buffet lunch of Somalian cuisine. They are researching recipes and shopping at local African markets on a quest to make their offerings authentic, Magnus said.

The conference will conclude with a multidimensional performance by the Somali Museum of Minnesota Dance Troupe. In addition to dancing, Magnus said the evening will include skits and a poetry reading. The Minneapolis-based group also will bring a display of Somali artifacts.

In between the main events, nearly 20 presentations are planned on topics ranging from agricultural development in Vietnam to Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Each hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. attendees will have to choose one of three or four concurrent presentations.

Some of the presenters are SCC faculty members, including Tracy Murphy and Dave Edwards who will lead a culture shock simulation activity, and Wayne Whitmore who will talk about the psychology that led to the Holocaust.

Some of the speakers are guests, including energy company executive Jerod Smithback who will talk about cultural differences in the workplace, and Watonwan County District Court Judge Greg Anderson who will discuss immigration issues in the court system.

A few of the presenters are SCC alumni, including Antonia Gomez who will talk about growing up as an undocumented immigrant, and Naomi Anywaush who will provide an introduction to the Dakota language.

 Later in the afternoon, two members of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota will talk about misconceptions and marginalization of Native Americans.

A documentary about a Minnesota couple who established a nonprofit in Thailand supporting Thai artisans and selling their creations in the U.S. also will be debuted.

A few dozen vendors will have booths in the conference center selling a variety of crafts, including a Somali henna tattooist and a Palestinian seller of silk scarves.

Most SCC classes will take a break that day and students are encouraged to attend the conference instead, Magnus said. Mankato high schools also will send students to daytime presentations.

All members of the public are welcome to attend, the event’s lead organizer said. No registration is required.

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