Somalis have many artistic traditions, and Somali artists are developing new forms all over the world. Presenters discuss Somali poetry, art and material culture, and Somali cinema in the past and in the Diaspora.


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Global Cross-Currents

The Somali Diaspora has brought about many changes and challenges. Presenters discuss evolving Somali identities, clan in the classroom, the different experiences of Somalis around the world, and popular beliefs about Somali pirates, jihadists, and nation-state.

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Language is central to social life and education. Presenters discuss the Somali writing system, pronunciation of Somali, language diversity among Somalis, and Somali students who need English as a second language support.

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Somali families in Somalia and in those in the Diaspora take many forms. Presenters discuss polygamy, parenting in the Diaspora, kinship and the construction of clan, and the use of poetry to negotiate family relations.


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Somali identity is complex and changing continuously over time and across contexts. Presenters discuss colonialism and clan identity, Islam, the development of Somali Bantu as a distinct identity, and the dual identities of Somali youth and children in the Diaspora.


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Somalis and non-Somalis work together to improve the educational experiences of Somali students. Presenters discuss working with Somali parents, the relevance of Somali oral traditions in the classroom, and instruction for students who are learning English and/or have limited formal schooling.


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About the Project

This website grew out of The Ohio State University’s Teachers’ Workshop on Somali History, Language, and Culture, which took place in June of 2009 in the Somali Women and Children’s Alliance, a community service center located in the Global Mall, a commercial and social center for many Somalis on Columbus’s North side. The week-long workshop was designed for K12 educators who wanted to better understand and serve their Somali students.

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The Somali Diaspora has brought both enrichment and challenges for Somalis and receiving communities worldwide. Educators, students of Somali origin, and their families face particular cultural and linguistic challenges that affect classroom learning. Somali Studies for Educators seeks to increase understanding of Somali history, language, and culture in Somalia and in the Diaspora and thereby to support the development of productive learning communities that include Somali and non-Somali students, teachers, and families. 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 selected video clips from the workshop. These clips are organized into themes: identity, arts, family, education, language, and global cross-currents.



Funding for this program was made possible in part by the Ohio Humanities Council with support by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, or of the Ohio Humanities Council.

School of Teaching and Learning
The Ohio State University
333 Arps Hall
1945 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43210