Last Reflection

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” Isaac Asimov

As reflect on the past six weeks, I think about home a lot. I love my topic not only because it is so close to home and I know first hand people who left home in search for better life, but also I am amazed what awaits those people on the other side. The decisions and challenges that a lot of them face reflect on their strength. I learned a lot about myself and the things I hold close in this process. By reading a lot about the refugee process, I appreciate that I have a place to call home, a luxury that a lot of refugees don’t have.

The process of conducting this research has been educational, challenging and frustrating at times. I wanted to do justice of the people I was studying and share their stories, so when I was stuck at some stages of my project, I felt I was falling short and not doing justice to my topic. Not only have I learned more of the history of my country, and how the rest of the world sees it, but also I reflected a lot on what I know about Somalia. I think about the stories of civil war that my mom and aunt would tell me when I was younger, and how that in a way shaped the way they see the world. My mom constantly reminds me to be grateful for the stability in our lives.

In this past year, as I got involved in Refugee Action and started this project, I am learning a lot about the evil in the world that forces so many people to flee home and leave everything that once felt familiar to them behind. Having the platform to educate myself about such issues, I feel it is my duty as a human being to at least educate myself about those issues. I plan to continue this process and contribute to this discourse as best as I can.

I am holding close to all the stories I read, and the people that I learned their stories and empathized with just by just reading about their lives. I want to leave behind my appreciation of this program to the next DH scholars who will find something they’re passionate about and commit themselves to learn more about it. I am grateful all for all of you for making this happen. It went fast, and I could not do without the help of each one of you. Thank you Sarah for all that you did for me this past year as my advisor and also in the last six weeks. You always feed me cookies or banana bread and I am going to miss that a lot.

“There is no denying that there is evil in this world but the light will always conquer the darkness.” Idowu Koyenikan

Reflection 4

My project came a long way from the beginning, and I am still figuring out where I am going with all the data I have and how best to use it. I narrowed down my topic a lot to the second migration of the Somali Refugees. I started looking at the refugee resettlement process of the Somali refugees from home to the US. That was going to be a lot of work and a big topic to finish in six weeks. I have been fortunate to find good information on the secondary migration of refugees in general also for Somali Refugees. I am finding out there is limit statistical data on the numbers of families moving to new places after the initial placement. Something very interesting about secondary migration is the freedom and agency it gives refugees after they come to the US. For that reason, some times it is hard to keep track their movement.

Because of that, I am not sure exactly what data I am going to use for my visual project. I am thinking using StoryMap JS to make narrative map of the movement and personal stories of specific refugees. We are already half way through our project, and it is nerve racking that I am still changing my tools and data set. This week I am working on establishing a draft of my project, so I can see what more data I need to collect.

I emailed Catherine Besteman, the anthropologist who wrote on the books I am reading; she is unfortunately out of office, so I was not able to hear back from her.However, I was able to meet with professor Smith who is helping me with this project. She helped me revise and make my thesis clearer. One of my teachers in high school is working at a resettlement agency in Chicago, and I asked her about what are the policies of secondary migration and if her agency keeps track the movement of refugees after their initial placement. She said, “Resettlement agencies tend to discourage outmigration [secondary migration] as time and money are spent on the refugees’ behalf prior to their arrival” and “refugees have freedom of movement in the US so it’s completely up to them where they move once they’re here.” She gave me couple websites to check for data too , so that has been something positive this week.


Reflection 3

Because I will be gone this week, please use part of your reflection to engage with two of these articles. Your reflections can/should still be personal, but they should reveal thoughtful consideration of identity and its implications on work, structurally and in its content. This reflection should be longer (1-2 pages).

The use of technology and media to address social issues is becoming more popular than ever before. We talked about the role of Digital Humanities to address social issues, as well as the diversity and intersectionality of the Digital Humanities. The “Pedagogies of Race: Digital Humanities in the Age of Ferguson,” by Amy E. Earhart and Toniesha L. Taylor reading tackles the role of DH in addressing issues of Race historically and contemporary times. Yes, it is the case that people are using social media to raise awareness about issues like police brutality now, but it is important to realize that access and privilege to use technology play important role of what issues that are being addressed in Digital Humanities. This made me think of a book that I recently read, They Cant Kill Us All, and how important social media and technology were during the shootings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and so many more black men. The author, Washington Post writer, first covers the story of Ferguson but was inspired to write this book by the immense reaction this got nationally. It is also true, that shootings like those were happening before Mike Brown’s but access and resources made difference for Wesley Lowery to write his book.

Taylor and Earhart of Taxes A&M (PWI) and Prairie View A&M (HBCU) respectively discuss the significant of access to resources was at their project White Violence, Black Resistance. For instance, when they were presenting their project, Taylor could not secure funding for the presentation, so Taylor could not attend it.

In their own words, the goal of their project, White Violence, Black Resistance, was “to locate the voices, spaces and places where African American contributions have been most actively present, yet also actively erased or silenced, we have been careful to create digital structures that reveal rather than conceal.” HBCU libraries are less equipped with collection, spaces and data; Prairie View A&M is no exception. This reflects the role of access; race and privilege play in academia in general but also especially in DH. If you don’t have access to the right tools, your research might not go as far as you would like.

The goal of this project inspires me to give voice and share the true story of some Somali refugees. I want my project to reveal the humanity of refugees, what inspires their decisions to move and what is most important to them. Second migration is huge with in the Somali refugees in the United States. The pre conceived explanation of why Somali refugees move is the search for places with better economic profit. Is that always the case? Research is showing there more factors to why Somali refugees are moving a lot. I want to share the importance of community and safety to many Somalis through this project.

Intersectionality is important is DH because it gives dynamics to the projects, but also the understanding of the issues people are trying to address. It is hard to speak about issues of privilege and access with out addressing race for instance. The choice of the date you include in your project shows the intersectionality of your project.


Second Reflection

I am currently reading Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine. This book follows the unlikely story of few Somali minority individuals who their lives were demolished by civil war and direct discrimination against their people. In a small village called Banta, Catherine L. Besteman did her fieldwork in the late 1980s before the civil war destroyed the village and hundreds lost their lives.

This book follows the unlikely reunion of Besteman and few of the Banta residents who now are refugees in Lewiston, ME. As I read this book, I find myself imagining the lives of the people of Banta before things were a mess, when Somalia was stable, and recollecting the happier moments that my mom always talks about when she refers to anything before the civil war. Refugees are looked at as crisis, not as human beings that have stories, dreams and lives before the war. The more I read the stories of the people of Banta, the more I want to share similar personal stories of Somali refugees in the US. Some of the Banta residents are moving from other areas of the US to relocate in Lewiston, ME. I want to study if there is a similar trend of why people are moving away from their original resettlement homes to places like Maine.

This book is a good resource, but I still need a lot more data to track the second migration of the Somali refugees in the US. I am also not clear what mapping tool I am using to visually present my data. Those are some of the main things I still need to figure out.

As I get started, I really want to do justice of presenting and telling the stories of people, not only as unfortunate refugees, but also as individuals with passion and goals to achieve who find themselves in unfortunate situations. I hope this project humanizes the struggles of refugees and sheds some light on difficulties refugees face when they are resettled to foreign countries.

First Reflection

Talking to other scholars and how much they learned through this process, I expect to learn a lot of research tools that can help me with my future classes. I also expect this to be a lot of work, so I need to narrow down my topic, so I can get my working research topic done with in six weeks. My topic is about the Somali Refugees in the United States and the resettlement process. Focusing on the movement while they are in the United States “second migration” and what causes for a large Somali community to be in places like Minnesota and Maine. This is very close to home, so I expect to learn a lot more about what many Somalis go through as result of fleeing home.

I want to explore this topic because I always wondered who decides where refugee families are resettled to, and when they already here why they move to specific areas in this case Maine and Minnesota. I want to show this migration visually and share the story of some people and show their movement on the map.

It is important for me keep my daily assigned assignments done on time, so I have time to reflect on each part. Learning how to use maps would depend on how much practice I need with the program, so that part of the project would be flexible.

I need to narrow down my topic to something that I can do in six weeks, so that is the biggest challenge for me now. Finding all the information I need for this project could be another possible challenge. I plan to break down this project into pieces and just stick with the scheduled times for each part. I already started reading some books to get some more ideas of how to narrow down my topic and be ready for the start of the program.

I look forward to this project and working with everyone.