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About the Project

This workshop and the Somali Studies for Educators project as a whole grew out of 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. Building on the successes and lessons of previous workshops, the organizers brought together scholars, educators, activists, artists, and social service providers from the local community and beyond.

The videotaping of the workshop was undertaken to capitalize on the diversity and talent of the assembled presenters. Thirty-some hours of video footage were subsequently edited for use in web and DVD formats, with an eye to what would be useful to educators who work with Somali children, youth, and families. Video clips from presentations have been included on the website to introduce viewers to important themes in the workshop. The full- length presentation recordings provide additional depth and coverage of each topic and are available as a 12-disc DVD set. The DVD sets are published and distributed by The Ohio State University’s Foreign Language Publications, a not-for-profit publisher, distributor, and retailer.

The workshop engaged participants in learning about Somali history, language, and culture in multiple ways:

  • Lectures by Humanities scholars about Somali history, poetry, film, spoken and written language, art and artifacts.
  • Multimedia presentations by Somali activists, artists, former diplomats, and social service providers on various issues of importance to the Diaspora community in Columbus and elsewhere.
  • Lectures by education professionals on effective engagement of Somali students and parents.
  • Discussions during and between sessions to highlight the important interrelationships and ‘take away’ ideas from these three different perspectives.
  • Immersion opportunities to explore the Global Mall shops and interact with members of the Somali community.
  • Final projects in which students designed lesson plans to support either Somali students’ learning of academic content and/or skills OR non-Somali students’ learning about Somali history, language, and/or culture.


The Somali Studies for Educators project is administered by Dr. Leslie C. Moore, Associate Professor in OSU’s School of Teaching & Learning, and Laura Joseph, Assistant Director of OSU’s Center for African Studies. While the initiative for this project came from The Ohio State University, the project is the outcome of efforts by many individuals and the support of several funding agencies and public and private organizations. We wish especially to thank the Ohio Humanities Council for their enthusiastic support of the project from its inception, as well as the U.S. Department of Education and the Ohio State University. We also wish to thank all of the following for their contributions to the workshop and its digital documentation and dissemination:

  • Columbus City Schools
  • The Somali Women and Children’s Alliance
  • The Somali Cultural and Research Center
  • The Global Mall
  • Studio CT and the OSU Technology Scholars Program
  • Hawa Siad, Executive Director, SWCA
  • Dr. Mohamud “Dirios” Diriye, Director, Somali Cultural and Research Center
  • All the Global Mall Dancers, Singers, Poets, and Cultural Consultants
  • The 30 educators who participated in the workshop
  • Dr. Lidwien Kapteijns, Professor of History, Wellesley College
  • Dr. Abdinur Mohamud, Ohio Department of Education
  • Abdirazak Farah, New Citizens’ Initiative, City of Columbus
  • Abdi Roble, Somali Documentary Project
  • Doug Rutledge, Somali Documentary Project
  • Tariq Tarey, Somali Documentary Project
  • Dr. John Johnson, Department of Folklore, Indiana University
  • Abdulkadir Abdi, Continuing Education, Ohio State University
  • Abdisalaam Aato, Producer, Olol Studio
  • Dr. Brenda Custodio, Principal, High School Welcome Center
  • Abdi Issa, Director, CUSCO Educational Services
  • Hodan Khalif, School Resource Coordinator, Communities in Schools
  • Abdikarim Omar, Former Somali Ambassador to the United States
  • Abdalla Kassim, First Time Learners
  • Dr. Richelle Schrock, Department of Women’s Studies, Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Dr. Anita Waters, Professor of Sociology, Denison University


The project administrators can be reached at

School of Teaching and Learning
The Ohio State University
333 Arps Hall
Columbus, OH 43210

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