New Blog Journey To A Nother Land highlighting American Assimilation, Somali Diaspora, and Creative Expression
The new blog, “Journey To A Notherland” relates to a project that connects part of the Somali Diaspora. It all started last year, when I became more involved with MGR Foundation‘s Tolerance Toolkit Program. Since then I have researched, planned and devised a project relating to the large Somali refugee population in Pittsburgh and the greater issues in American politics and policy regarding how we tolerate, treat, accept, and help others, especially non-Americans. From refugee, to immigrant, to illegal immigrant, when any type of new neighbor moves in, the community is not always the most accepting or kind.
I work with middle school students and typically teach them about art and creative activism (how to stand up for yourself and your rights through artistic expression). After talking with many students about their experience coming into the Pittsburgh schools and community and how they felt they were being treated by others, I felt motivation and encouragement to pursue this topic further and do something about it. This past summer, I did field research in the Netherlands. I interviewed Somali refugees, 2nd generation Somalis and non-Somalis alike. I wanted to see how a progressive and beautiful country in Europe accepted refugees. The Netherlands has more years under its belt for granting Somalis Dutch citizenship. Because of which, the Somali community has built very well-thought out organizations and community networks to help each other. Pittsburgh can definitely take after this example to promote and help each other.
This year I am continuing the project, and my students in Pittsburgh will exchange art work and letters with those students in the Netherlands. More information can be found on the blog: http://journeytoanotherland.wordpress.com/ I hope this project continues to spark discussion about tolerance and acceptance. It is important to have dialog about the way we treat outsiders especially as it relates to policy making and the future of our political presence.