The Somali Student Association’s Somali Night was different this year as the organization used the night to bring to light the achievements and continued challenges of Somali women both in Minnesota and around the world.
Saturday’s event brought many professional Somali women to speak and perform including a live podcast and a speech from a humanitarian working with the Peace Corps.
“We changed our plans because we realized that Somali Night is actually something that every SSA on every campus across the nation does so were like why not dedicate a night to Somali women and invite some girls out here who are doing some important stuff,” Khulud Hassan, the president of Minnesota State University, Mankato’s SSA, said.
Students who went to the event were greeted at the entrance to the CSU Ballroom with artwork done by Somali women, some of which were by MNSU students.
Hassan, along with Vice President Rahma Abdi, were the first to speak at the event. During the opening speech, Hassan spoke Somali throughout her time on stage with Abdi translating for the crowd.
“Thank you so much for coming out to our first annual gala and we are hoping to have many more celebrating Somali women and introducing new and innovative women who come up and – who are just here to inspire our younger generation of girls,” Abdi said.
The keynote speaker of the event, Nasra Ibrahim, spoke about the stereotypes Somalians face specifically the infrastructure of Somalia. Ibrahim spoke about how when people think of Somalia they think of rundown buildings and third-world conditions.
Ibrahim then went on to speak on the history of Somalia and the many empires that occupied different parts of the region.
“Somalia has been invaded and colonized by so many different empires, it started with Arab, then Turkey and also British,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim’s speech was followed up by a poetry reading and a presentation by members of Changing the Narrative, a group dedicated to helping the Somali community affected by the opioid epidemic, and a panel of eight professional Somali women.
The eight-person panel was moderated by the SSA and Somali women of different generations speak of their lives and what they hope the next generation of Somali girls are able to learn from the last.
“I really love the women’s health field and just being able to work with the Somali community and being able to communicate with the elders and communicate with the clients I have is what makes me really happy to be in the field I am,” one of the panelists said.
The gala was then finished with a live performance of the podcast Unwritten.
The podcast dealt primarily with a picture that was put up on the large screen that showed a young Somali mother breast feeding one child while helping another with their homework. Each of the members of Unwritten gave their own personal opinion on the picture with many of them agreeing that women go through severe trials of hardships not shared with their male counterparts.
There were some in the audience who also voiced their opinion on the picture and of single mothers without any help.
Header photo: A live panel discussion during the Letter to My Daughter event held in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 in Mankato, Minn. (Jack Linell/MSU Reporter)