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Minnesotans maintaining travel plans to Paris despite attacks

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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The terrorist attacks that shook Paris Nov. 13 week aren’t stopping Minnesotans from traveling to the City of Light, according to local travel experts.

Sandy Lovick, owner of several Travel Leaders locations throughout the Twin Cities, noted Wednesday that her own associate was on her way to Paris, which has been nursing its wounds since the Nov. 13 attacks that claimed the lives of at least 130 people.

“They certainly had problems in Paris, but not necessarily in the very midst of the most popular tourist spots,” said Lovick, speaking of the reason travelers are still packing for France.

She added: “But certainly, there are people who are going to think about going, and we would tell them to be most vigilant to their surroundings.”

Agency sees no cancelations

Lovick, who has nine travel-agency offices in Minneapolis and St. Paul, sent messages to her employees after the attacks, checking to see if clients wanted to change their flight dates. So far, the agencies have not heard a word from people wanting to cancel or delay their plans.

“While there are people who probably hesitated [to travel to Paris], we — at our own offices — have not had any changes from any of our clients,” she said.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

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More young Somali-Americans are choosing careers in education

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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In recent years, Said Garaad has seen an increasing number of Somali-Americans in Minnesota who are choosing careers in education.

Most of those joining the field are young people who grew up in Minnesota and received their first taste of education in urban classrooms filled with immigrants and refugees learning the English language, said Garaad, School Success Program Assistant at Minneapolis Public Schools.

“These educators know what it means to learn in urban schools,” noted Garaad, who has been working with Minneapolis Public Schools for more than 10 years. “They’re now coming back to work in the same school system they left some years ago.”

Teachers, counselors, social workers

Many are getting their licenses in teaching, while others are becoming school counselors and social workers, explained Garaad, who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in school counseling at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He said that he’s also aware of other Somali-Americans who are attending education programs in universities throughout Minnesota, training to join the 69,529 licensed staff in the state’s education system.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

Community Voices: Nelson should apologize for actions

By Jamal Abdulahi, Rosemount Town Pages

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In September, the Rosemount City Council voted 4-1 to rezone property on 154000 South Robert Trail so members of the Muslim community could establish a mosque.

Councilman Shaun Nelson not only voted against the project, he mobilized. In an unprecedented move, he requested the issue to be revisited in October meeting.

The council refused to put the item back on the agenda but did allow individuals with similar views as councilman Nelson to speak. Among them was a woman from Eagan who accused Rosemount Muslims of a terror connection. This vile comment is a direct result of councilman Nelson’s actions.

Rosemount is a vibrant and growing community. Money Magazine recently named it one of the best places in America to live and raise a family. The good public schools are something everyone cherishes in Rosemount. In fact, it’s one of the major reasons people want to move in. Thousands of boys and girls participate in sports through Rosemount Area Athletic Association, a non-profit dedicated to developing youth character through sports. This extraordinary work by volunteer parents complements the public school system.

My faith in these community values was cemented when I ran for Rosemount City Council last year. I knocked on over 2,500 doors and met many residents. The vast of majority of them were polite and courteous.

There was also a general fear of the unknown. Some of the voters who did not know me called my neighbors and friends to confirm what I told them. That type of citizen engagement humbled me and made me more hopeful about the future of Rosemount.

Continue reading at Rosemount Town Pages

Jamal Abdulahi is an independent analyst. He writes about politics, economy and Minnesota’s Somali-American community. He also blogs at www.minnesotacivic.com and the Minnesota Star Tribune.

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St. Cloud man’s hope renewed after visit to Somalia

By Ibrahim Hirsi, St. Cloud Times

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For more than two decades, Ahmed Abdi has observed what seems like a race between major news organizations to tell a single narrative of his native Somalia: The story of death and destruction.

Abdi, who has lived in St. Cloud since 2003, returned this summer to the East African nation he escaped in 1991 after the brutal civil war that left his homeland in anarchy and chaos for more than 20 years.

The images Abdi saw during a two-month visit to various regions in Somalia weren’t those of terrorism, piracy or drought — stories that at times have blanketed America’s major newspapers and TV news segments.

Instead, he saw Somalia rising from the ashes of a prolonged civil war.

“There are new buildings erected everywhere in Somalia,” said Abdi, who returned to St. Cloud in August. “Some of the new buildings are worth $2 million.”

Abdi also met with hundreds of Somalis returning from Europe, Canada and the United States. Some came to visit; others to help rebuild their country, Abdi added.

Some of those he met included entrepreneurs from Minnesota, doctors from Europe as well as educators and developers from Canada and other parts of the world — all of them wanting to help rebuild Somalia, which suffered in the hands of warlords and extremist groups for many years.

Continue reading at St. Cloud Times

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

Assumed dead, St. Paul woman surprises family after fatal Hajj stampede

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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After the special morning prayers of Eid al-Adha last Thursday, one St. Paul group abandoned its much-anticipated festive activities during the Islamic holiday commemorating the end of the annual Islamic pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Instead, the group of family, friends and neighbors filled a small mosque in south St. Paul, praying in silence and mourning the death of 62-year-old Dahabo Farah Ebar, whom they thought was killed in a fatal stampede on the outskirts of the Muslims’ holy city of Mecca.

“She was popular in the neighborhood and was loved by everyone,” said Feisal Adan. “We canceled the Eid. The entire neighborhood gathered at her house. It was a sad moment for all of us.”

Two mosques in St. Paul also held special prayers for Ebar, who left St. Paul just two weeks ago to fulfill her Hajj duties. Congregations were told that Ebar was one of more than 700 pilgrims who lost their lives on Thursday in the stampede in Mina as they carried out a symbolic stoning of the devil, one of the final Hajj rituals.

But what happened later in the day astonished all: Ebar called her son, Farhan Sheikhdon, and told him that she had been lost in the crowd and her phone had died.

Sheikhdon then turned to the mourners, telling them that Ebar was in fact alive and well. “People didn’t believe she was alive,” he added. “They were talking to her until midnight.”

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

Follow EngageMinnesota on Twitter
Follow EngageMinnesota on FaceBook

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)