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Law School Hosts Somali Youth Summit

JULY 21, 2009—Youth-program leaders, coordinators, and teachers from such locations as London, Toronto, California, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee are heading for the University of Minnesota this weekend to participate in the Second Annual Somali Youth Summit, to be held July 24-26, 2009, at the Law School.

The three-day event is attracting international attention, both for its agenda and its goals: to educate Somali youth on critical issues so they can develop their own plan of action, to identify and tap leadership potential, and to provide opportunities for leadership.

Organizers say that the first Summit, held in Columbus, Ohio, received a tremendous response. By moving the second Summit to the Twin Cities, they intend to enlarge the Somali community—both those dedicated to helping prepare tomorrow's leaders and those receiving that training. In addition, the new venue acknowledges the widening scope of issues that need to be addressed to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

The Somali Youth Summit is sponsored by West Bank CHANCE (Cedar-Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement), a collaboration of seven colleges and offices at the University: the Carlson School of Management, College of Liberal Arts, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Law School, Office of Public Engagement, Office of University Relations, and Wilson Library.

Housed in the Center for Integrative Leadership, CHANCE was formed to create a partnership between the West Bank University community and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in which it resides.

"CHANCE is proud and excited to support this event for our Somali neighbors," says Merrie Benasutti, Coordinator of Community Partnerships/CHANCE Center for Integrative Leadership. "The success and vitality of the University community are interwoven with those of the surrounding neighborhood. This opportunity for engagement and education will strengthen both communities."

Erin Keyes, the Law School's Assistant Dean of Students, agrees, noting that "The Law School, University, CHANCE, and Center for Integrative Leadership are committed to engaging with the local community as they work to find creative solutions to pressing problems." Although the Law School "is not involved in the program or views expressed at the Somali Youth Summit," Keyes says, "we are inspired that young people are proactively collaborating to promote positive change in their community, and we are happy to provide a space for these discussions."

Numerous educators and mentors from diverse settings are coming together to help prepare the next generation of Somali leaders. Among the topics they will discuss are Islamic/cultural identity, surviving peer pressure, community health issues, change through higher education, and drugs and violence.

The Second Annual Somali Youth Summit will take place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., July 24-26, in Room 25 of the Law School, 229 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis.

For more information, call 612-886-4614 or email youth.summit09@yahoo.com.