Former prime minister of Somalia speaks to full house

Former prime minister of Somalia speaks to full house

By Jenny Le, member of the Changing Faces Student Advisory Board

Dr. Ali Galaydh, the former prime minister of Somalia, spoke at St. Thomas Oct. 24 about the challenges and opportunities Somalis face in their own country. The ongoing political crisis has meant that several millions have fled the country.

"His talk gave a great background for the film," said student Jill Englund, who participated in the Changing Faces of Minnesota program last year, a partnership with Lincoln International High School to collaborate on projects. "It was incredible to meet a man who not only knows the full history of Somalia but experienced a great deal of that history himself, firsthand."

The documentary, "The Letter," immediately followed Galaydh's remarks. It documented the presence of Somali immigrants in the predominantly white town of Lewiston, Maine. Tensions rose between white-supremacist groups and civil-rights activists in the film.

When asked if other Somalis had seen this film, Galaydh responded by saying that he hoped so because it can be very therapeutic.

"It is a mistake to underestimate the power these people have in times of crisis," added Galaydh. He noted that even in 1930s Germany, a place of rich cultural achievement, the Nazis were able to get enough power to kill millions.

Galaydh and his wife, Mariam Mohamed, visited with faculty, staff and students at a reception before the film.

More than 100 students, including many from the Changing Faces of Minnesota courses, Justice and Peace Studies and Journalism attended the event.

Galaydh noted that this was the second year he'd visited St. Thomas in connection with "The Letter." Galaydh added that he hopes this will become an annual event.

Galaydh is a professor at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. He also will teach a January Term course, Geography 298: Globalization, Africa and Development, at the University of St. Thomas. For more information about the course, contact Dr. Paul Lorah, chair of the Geography Department, (651) 962-5566.

For more information about The Changing Faces of Minnesota – A Global Perspective, visit its Web site or contact Dr. Ellen Kennedy, (651) 962-5082.