On December 11th, 2015, Sen. Kari Dziedzic, along with Sen. Greg Clausen (an Augsburg alum!) and Rep. Jim Davnie, visited with faculty and students from Augsburg’s East African Student to Teacher program (EAST).
Speaking on behalf of the program were Peg Finders (Education Dept. Chair), Audrey Lensmire, (EAST Program Director), and Yodit Tesfaye (EAST Program Assistant).
Four EAST Scholars were selected to explain why they chose the teaching profession and what the CUE fund has meant for them.
Abdiasis Hirsi, who was born in Somalia and spent several years in Kenya before coming to Minnesota, told guests about founding a school in Kenya. With minimal supplies and very little money, Abdiasis played the role of teacher, counselor, administrator, and facilities manager. He is now a co-president of EASTSA, a student association founded and run by EAST scholars, and is pursuing a K-12 ESL license. Abdiasis credited the program’s flexible credit load and Augsburg’s centralized location as vital to his success.
Ebenezer K. Flomo, a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Education program, is pursuing a Secondary Education licensure in Social Studies. Ebenezer spoke about the importance of helping non-native speakers better understand academic tests. He praised Lensmire and Tesfaye for bringing in tutors to provide added support for students preparing to take the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE).
Ayan Mohamed, an undergraduate studying to be a high school English teacher, talked about the value of the program’s bi-monthly seminars. “Building a sense of community has been so important to all of us,” said Ayan. “The meetings provide a place for us to come together, gain a sense of belonging, and encourage one another in our studies and in our lives.” Ayan also noted that teachers with a broader cultural background “are more prepared to help students navigate cultural misunderstandings.”
Osman Hasan, who holds an undergraduate degree in political science and has extensive experience as a connector between the Somali community, local government, and nonprofit organizations, felt right at home amongst the lawmakers. Noting the high demand for teachers of color in the state of Minnesota, Osman spoke about taking his talent for advocacy to the classroom to inspire more students to pursue the education field.
Representative Jim Davnie, an advocate for Augsburg’s inclusion in the CUE bill, credited the Somali community for organizing around the topic of teacher diversity and presenting the issue to state leaders. Davnie also applauded Augsburg’s leadership and Education faculty for ensuring that the EAST program was indeed a success.
The EAST Program was a recipient of funds from the 2013 Collaborative Urban Educator (CUE) appropriation. Augsburg College wishes to thank all of the legislators who worked to make the CUE fund and the EAST program a reality.
To learn more about EAST, click here.