CyberFair Project ID: 6037

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Somali Kids' Project
Category: 2. Community Groups and Special Populations

School: Somali American Community Association: Family Lear
    Takoma Park, MD, USA

11 students, ages 7-11 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 10, 2010. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2010

Classes and Teachers: Susan Jenkins

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site: http://www.SACAUSA.ORG

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our community includes Somali immigrants and Somali-American youth in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. This includes immigrants who came to the United States up to 30 years ago to attend school and others that arrived in the United States within the last two years because of war. Other members of our community are the children of these Somali immigrants. Some of the children were born in the United States and have always lived in the United States. Other children were born in Somalia, Senegal, Kenya or others countries and came with their parents to the United States. We all speak English and many of us also speak Somali, Arabic and Spanish. All of us are Muslim. We are a blend of cultures and traditions.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project began as a way to learn more about both Somalia and the United States and to better understand our blended culture. The purpose of our project is to share what we learned and teach others about Somalia and being Somali American. We also offer specific suggestions that people can use when they meet Somali immigrants or Somali American people to help them feel more comfortable in the United States. We started by learning basic facts about the geography and symbols of both countries. Then we created our own symbols to represent a blend of the two cultures. We studied books including fictional books about children that moved from Africa to the United States, factual books such an atlas and history books, and an essay written by a boy who came to the United States because of the war in Somalia. We talked about things that would be hard for people coming to the United States from Somalia and people who have fled a war. We then wrote interview questions to see if the ideas that we had were accurate. We did face to face interviews with six people and got information from17 other people through a web-based survey. We learned that some of our ideas were right and that there were other things we had not thought of. For example, we knew that people would miss their families and friends when they left home. But, we were surprised that everyone mentioned how much they missed the food from home. We then spent a couple of weeks talking about the main challenges faced by the Somali immigrants we had talked to and brainstormed about both things that they could do to feel more comfortable and things that we as youth could do to help them.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

One of the goals of the Somalia American Community Association’s Family Learning Center is to provide families with computers that they can use to improve their job skills and to connect to the internet. As a result, all of the project participants had access to the internet at home. Internet access was very important for the Somali Kids’ Project because we used it to find pictures, videos and information about Somali and the United States. We also used the internet for our web-based survey. One of the coolest things was finding avatars that reflected us and our teacher that we could include on our web-pages.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

While we started with a focus on Somali Americans, there were some youth and adults in our group from other countries and we had to think about ways to include them without losing our main focus on Somali immigrants. We were able to look at the parts of their experiences that were similar to the Somali experience and include those ideas in our website. It was hard to find developmentally appropriate books that talked specifically about the Somali experience. Because the project was voluntary we also had problems with attendance and participation. While there were 11 children all together, only four participated in every activity. It was also hard to hear about some of the hard times that the people we interviewed had gone through.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

From studying the real life experiences of Somali immigrants to the United States, the Somali Kids’ Project helped us learn more about the world and also to be grateful for the safety and security that we have in our lives in the United States. We also learned that even kids can make a difference in the lives of others.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

While this project was a voluntary extra curricular activity, we consulted the standards from the National Council for Social Studies (

Culture: how we understand ourselves as individuals and as part of a group or groups. In our case Somali, American, Somali American and Muslim.

People, places and environments: We learned about geography and how living in different environments affects people. For example, how we are different from our parents because we grew up in the United States while they grew up in Somalia.

Global connections: We were able to have first hand contact with people who have lived in many different countries and we learned about how they lived, how they see things, and issues that they have faced in moving to the United States.

Civic ideas and practices: We touched on our responsibility as citizens to help other people that live in our community. We talked about things in general that can help as well as things that we can do personally.

This project was different from our school classes because we were able more active in the process. We were able to shape the project and the web-site. We looked as books, videos and music and were able to talk to people asking our own questions in our own words.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

We used many traditional tools such as books and libraries to get information about Somalia and the United States. We also used the internet to find pictures, videos and music from Somalia that helped us learn more about the country that our parents are from but that, because of war, we have not been able to visit. The internet also allowed us to survey more people than we had time to interview. We used oral interviews to get detailed information about what it was like for Somali people to leave home and move to the United States. Our teacher showed us these tools and resources.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

We made a presentation to the Chair of the Somali American Community Association and have plans for presentations at upcoming community events sponsored by the Somali American Community Association. Our web-project is a link on the main page of the Somali American Community Association ( Now that we have finished out r project, we have plans to write articles for the local community paper and a local Muslim community paper to teach people about what we did and about Somalia. Our goal is to be good representatives of Somalia and Muslims in general so people get more realistic ideas about our cultures and to show them the positive things we do.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

One impact of our project is providing information about the challenges of Somali immigrants and ways that people can help to welcome them to a new culture. Not that many people know a lot about Somali people and culture. So our project provides needed information. Another impact was showing adults that youth are interested in history and that we are able to make a difference. The leadership of the Somali American Community Association, and our parents, were amazed at what we were able to do and this gave them a new respect for the our abilities even though we are children.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Our main helpers were volunteers and students with the Somali American Community Association. One of the volunteers was our teacher and other volunteers let us interview them. The chair of the Somali American Community Association was the one that created the web-based survey from our interview questions and asked people to fill it out. Members of the Somali American Community Association and their friends helped us by filling out our survey. Our families also helped by letting us talk to them and ask them questions about being Somali and Somali American. When we went to the library to find the books we used, the librarians were also very helpful. We also all helped each other through our team work.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Some of the interesting things were learned include how beautiful Somalia was before the war. None of the members of the Somali Kids’ Project have been to Somalia, but we saw pictures and videos that showed Somali before the war destroyed many of the buildings and the natural beauty of the country. We also learned that even as children we can make a difference. Be being polite, friendly and caring we can help others to feel more comfortable in a new country. We were surprised to hear our parents talk about their childhoods in Somalia. They told us things through the interviews that they had never told us before. We also learned that even if people go through something very hard, like escaping a war or living in a refugee camp, they can still find things to be happy about and new friends to help them to be happy. We learned that even though our parents are from Somalia, life in Somalia is more different from life in the United States than we expected. Both countries have good points and things that people would like to improve or change.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 6037)

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