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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Class Introduces Community to Somali Culture

By Sarah Thomsen

A new group of people has started calling Green Bay home.

Since January, the number of Somalis in Brown County has quadrupled to nearly 300, drawn here by good schools and a low crime rate.

But the flood of new faces has increased the need to educate anyone from teachers to landlords about Somali culture and language.

Firdosa Hussein knows how difficult it is to start over in a new city. She moved to Green Bay five months ago and says people sometimes stare at her clothes are simply don't understand her.

So she is educating them, starting with those who work with Somalis every day.

"I want to teach you how to deal with a human being," she tells a class.
In two weeks, Hussein has taught Somali culture to more than 100 people from the Green Bay area, including teachers, landlords, and medical personnel -- all who find themselves working with Somalis yet know very little about them.

"You can have a noise complaint issue, but you don't understand that they eat dinner later at night and stay up later into the evening, so maybe we can encounter different living styles," Erin Wood of Crown Pointe Management said.

"All of a sudden we've had more families moving in, and they're not sure what to do. They don't want to offend anyone," teacher Katie Hoss said.

Hussein teaches them about culture, Muslim religion, and just how to relate to them both at home and in public.

"If we're in their home doing therapy with their children, they might need to take time out to do things that are important to them," CP Center occupational therapist Jessica Linsmeier said.

Hussein said, "Green Bay has been a wonderful place, simply because people want to go through the extra step to get to know the Somali culture."

The popularity of these classes at St. Norbert College has grown so much, Hussein is already being asked to teach more of them.

Source: WBAY-TV

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