The New York Times features interfaith work at Augsburg College

Fardosa Hassan
Fardosa Hassan ’12

Award-winning author, columnist, and professor Samuel Freedman featured five Augsburg College community members in a commentary for The New York Times’ On Religion section. The piece, “Muslim College Chaplains Extend a Hand Across Religious Divides,” highlighted the work of Muslim Student Program Associate and Chaplain Fardosa Hassan ’12. 

As Freedman reported, Hassan is among dozens of chaplains on college and university campuses across the U.S. to “play a vital dual role: helping Muslim students feel welcome, and introducing Islam to non-Muslims.”

This work, according to Hassan, has the potential to assist students during their college days and positively influence individuals’ lives long after graduation.

“My role is to help students negotiate this multifaith, diverse environment,” Hassan explained to Freedman. “I’m going to give them a tool for when they go out of this institution, so they know how to be respectful of others. A lot of times, people are afraid even to ask the questions of people who are different. So I say, begin with friendship. Start by saying hello.”

In his column, Freedman acknowledges that interfaith conversations are meaningful and necessary not only on Augsburg’s campus but also just beyond its borders in Minneapolis.

Augsburg “is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has traditionally attracted the vast majority of its students from white Protestant denominations,” he writes. “Yet its campus directly abuts the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood that is the epicenter of Minnesota’s population of 31,500 Somali Muslims. Perhaps nowhere else in the United States does a hockey rink sit so close to a halal meat market.”

While Augsburg has been a collaborative neighborhood partner for many years, President Paul Pribbenow has deepened that commitment in an effort to help the College fulfill its calling to foster conversations between the diverse residents of its vibrant community.

The story touches on interactions between Hassan and Augsburg College students whom Hassan has helped reflect on their spirituality to consider how it shapes their interpretations of the world. In this role, Hassan partners with College Pastor and Director of Ministries Sonja Hagander in individually supporting students as they navigate highs and lows, challenges and opportunities, faith and even their final exams.

Person-to-person efforts, according to Hassan, are at the heart of her work.

 

Basketball program founded by Jennifer Weber ’11 gets specially designed uniforms, MN Daily reports

MN Daily - logoThe Minnesota Daily recently covered the Cedar Riverside Community Traveling Basketball program, which provides coaching, practice, and competition for six teams of local boys and girls ranging from sixth to 10th grade.

The program was founded by Augsburg College alumna Jennifer Weber ’11, who recognized a need for such programs. “The kids here in the neighborhood need more quality programming,” she said. “The kids want it. They go to open gym all the time.”

Another need Weber recognized dealt with a lack of functional athletic attire that was culturally acceptable for the many Muslim girls in the program.

Luckily, design students from the University of Minnesota had already been working to solve that problem. Working with the players and other partners, the students designed uniforms with adjustable hijabs, knee-length skirts and breathable leggings. A grant from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station provided funding to donate the completed uniforms to the program.

The article concludes with a statement from coach and co-founder Muna Mohamed ’16, an exercise science senior at Augsburg who grew up in the neighborhood.

“These girls are getting an opportunity to have culturally appropriate clothing, at the same time … [as] enjoying sports,” she said. “They don’t have to worry about fixing their scarves. They don’t have to worry about ‘How can I play basketball and also respect my culture?'”

Read For girls, new uniform opens gym on the Minnesota Daily site.

Minnesota Daily interviews Yasameen Sajady ’11 for story on Sisterhood Boutique

MN Daily - logoMinnesota Daily, the student newspaper of the University of Minnesota, recently published an article about Sisterhood Boutique, a secondhand clothing store in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis that serves as a hands-on entrepreneurial experience for young women in the area. The program, which offers four-month internships that help build and develop the business skills of young women aged 16-21, recently celebrated its second anniversary.

Included in the article was an interview with Yasameen Sajady ’11, an Augsburg College alumna who was hired as the social enterprise manager at Pillsbury United Communities, which owns the store and oversees the internship program as the business grows. The internships begin in the classroom, but quickly shift to the storefront. “In the first two weeks, we really hit hard on the skills that you would need to be successful,” Sajady said. “And then they’re put on the job.”

Read A ‘multilayered’ enterprise on the Minnesota Daily site.

Muna Mohamed ’16 and Jennifer Weber ’11 support girls in sports, appear in Star Tribune

Minneapolis Star TribuneAuggies Muna Mohamed ’16 and Jennifer Weber ’11 each play an important role in supporting Minneapolis girls’ efforts to stay fit and active. The two women coach basketball teams that play as part of the Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports program at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Augsburg College’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

The Star Tribune recently featured the work of Mohamed and Weber in a story on how the GIRLS program worked with community members and University of Minnesota employees to design and sew culturally sensitive activewear for Muslim girls to use during their practices and games.

Read “New uniforms score points for modesty for Muslim girls” on the Star Tribune website.

Somali women open boutique with support of Augsburg

kareThe Sisterhood Boutique, a second-hand clothing store founded and operated by young Somali women in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and supported by Augsburg College, recently relocated to the old Smiley’s Clinic. Watch “Young Somali women open boutique,” a KARE 11 story to learn about involvement in this community-based project by Augsburg and about the women’s vision for the store.

Augsburg JIVE to perform at benefit for our Somali neighbors

Robert Stacke '71 conducts Augsburg College JIVE.
Robert Stacke ’71 conducts Augsburg College JIVE.

Augsburg College JIVE will perform January 24 at the Cedar Cultural Center to benefit victims and families of the New Year’s Day fire on Cedar Avenue. The fire, which claimed the lives of three residents who lived in the apartments above 516 Cedar Ave. S., destroyed the Otanga Grocery Store and displaced tenants of 10 residential units.

“Augsburg has a very long history of working with our neighborhood. We are honored to partner with our neighbors and to support our friends who have been  impacted by this tragedy,” said Mary Laurel True, director of community engagement for the College’s Sabo Center for Citizenship and Learning.

The benefit, a collaboration between Augsburg College, The Cedar, and KFAI radio, will feature musicians who represent the cultural past and present of the West Bank neighborhood. Entertainers include: Spider John Koerner, The Brass Messengers, Martin Devaney, Phil Heywood, Jon Rodine, Southside Desire, DJ Go Getta with SYAV (Somali Youth Against Violence). Continue reading “Augsburg JIVE to perform at benefit for our Somali neighbors”

Garden helps community grow

gardenThe soil has been spread and the plots marked. Soon, seasoned and novice gardeners, staff and faculty, and Cedar-Riverside neighbors will be digging and planting in Augsburg’s first community garden.

The idea of a campus garden started with a conversation between Abigail Crampton Pribbenow and Mary Laurel True, associate director of community service-learning, when the Pribbenows were on campus during the presidential interview process. Both women shared enthusiasm for a community garden based on the “Edible Schoolyard,” a project started at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. Continue reading “Garden helps community grow”