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Somali Student Organization on the rise

Get to know the new kids on the block

Photo credit: Bobby Jones – CU Sentry

Out of CU Denver’s  many student clubs, the Somali Student Organization (SSO) stands out from the crowd — not just because it has barely been around for a year, but also because of its overall message of cultural unity. The SSO is a club that brings members together over their cultural similarities and, in some instances, their differences too.

In the words of the SSO president Anab Ahmed, “The club is basically trying to bring the whole Somali community to the Auraria campus and show our presence. We’re here to support and show our culture.”

The club meets biweekly on Wednesday nights in the Student Commons Building, room 1401. Though the club is small, they have grown in many ways. Ahmed, who has taken over the presidential position from the founding president, has plans on how to continue the club’s expansion.

“Right now we’re working on an art show. We’re planning on doing it around December and we’re bringing Somali culture to the show. We’re going to have some student-made paintings, food, and hopefully a fashion show and some dancing,” Ahmed said.

The club is also planning a Winter Drive to collect items needed by refugees in and around Denver to help them get settled in for the cold months ahead.

But the SSO is not just for Somali students; it is for everybody. The club has no joining requirements, but rather opens its doors to all. A club based on cultural identity which allows those who do not identify as part of the culture into the organization is rare but “it lets other people show us what they appreciate and what they find interesting,” Ahmed said.

This merging of multiple cultures follows suit of the Somali heritage. As treasurer Najma Abdi explains, “I feel like we have a variety of cultures within our culture, and we just wanted to showcase that. We also do have a large population here on campus, so we just wanted to unite people and show the campus that Somalis are actually on campus and alive [in Denver].”

Building a community is important, especially when someone is a part of a minority. In order to overcome the obstacles of having a small membership, SSO hopes to partner with much larger clubs such as the Muslim Student Association and the African Student Union.

“As Somalis, we are largely within the Muslim community, so we do want to partner up with the Muslim Student Association, as well as the African Student Union on campus,” said Abdi, who is also a member of both MSA and ASU. “Our visions are about the same even though they focus mostly on the Muslim community, whereas we just focus specifically on Somali.”

Together, the multiple clubs plan to feed the homeless and participate in other community outreach programs, while building their own community within Auraria.

Community is important and is the main purpose of the SSO, because as a community of people with similar backgrounds, as Ahmed points out, “we can spot each other and identify each other.”

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