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My students and I have been on an incredible journey this semester. We have virtually traveled via the internet to Somalia, East Africa, touring its sights, sounds, history, art, culture, political structure, educational system, and religion. The students have become friends with 11 Somali in St. Cloud while interviewing them. They feel they cannot do justice to the beautiful people they have discovered. No doubt we have made mistakes but we have not intended to do so. This book is the result of collaboration. The articles and narratives you find within these pages are written entirely by the students with consultative help from me, their writing instructor. Because the students are so deeply devoted to their Somali partners, they strive to write the best they can for them. This is not to say that the writing herein is of professional quality but rather of heartfelt quality. We offer this book to the St. Cloud community as a gesture of good will, trying to do our part in building significant community relationships. ~Mary Jane Berger, OSB~
As the Service Learning Coordinator, I cannot express in words how much this book will mean to the community. This book gives all of us the opportunity to learn more about others and at the same time more about ourselves. We each have the power to build bridges, not out of needs, but out of a common respect for one another. My hope is that each reader will understand themselves better and, in turn, understand that there is more that connects people than what separates them. My hope is that we understand that each of us contribute to the strength of our community. I want to thank Rashid Mursal for his dedication to seeing this book through. His enthusiasm has proven that there is so much to gain from seemingly two different groups of people coming together for a common purpose. He demonstrates time and again that he is committed to helping our community grow in positive ways so that all members not only survive but succeed. And many, many thanks to Mary Jane Berger. Over the years she has shown tremendous commitment to learning experiences for her students that not only teach academically but about life as well. In her courses students learn as much about themselves as they do about the subject matter. She truly sets the course for understanding how each and every one of us can become a valuable part of the community. ~Cindy Pederson~
It has been a gratifying experience to connect and work with the talented students from CSBSJU and the Somali community members on this book. . We want this book to educate the main stream community as to why Somalis came to the United States in the first place and Minnesota/ St. Cloud in particular. In my presentations to community gatherings in Somali 101, I found that a great number of people do not know the answers to these questions. In addition, many people I talk to do not know how to interact with Somalis or where to start a conversation with them. This book will give the reader to a glimpse into the Somali Community through the prospective of diverse community members and hopefully will narrow this gap. I hope this book will increase their understanding and reinforce their eagerness to get to know and interact with their Somali neighbors in an equal or respectful way. This book has already created friendships between CSBSJU students and Somali Community members and I hope these friendships can grow and flourish. Because it is friendships, understanding, and working together that lead to learning opportunities for both sides as well as build one strong community. ~Rashid Mursal~
Berger, Mary Jane., College of Saint Benedict (Saint Joseph, Minn.), and St. John's University (Collegeville, Minn.). 2004. New Beginnings: Bilow Cusub. St. Joseph, Minn.: College of St. Benedict.