Once a week after school, a group of students at White Center Heights, Mount View, Des Moines and Bow Lake elementary schools are immersed in the Somali language and culture. It’s part of an after-school program called Somali Club.
The program serves students who speak Somali at home and is taught by bilingual staff. Students learn to speak, read and write in Somali.
“What makes me the proudest about Somali Club is strengthening students' Somali language skills. A lot of these students bring some skills to class, but we’re able to build on those skills and have students build literacy in Somali,” said Shukri Yusuf, Somali language learning specialist. “Another thing I’m grateful for is the parents' support of the Somali Club. They have been helpful in finding resources and helping organize family nights.”
The program launched in 2014 after the local Somali community advocated for a language program in our schools. Now, more than eight years later, the program is thriving in four schools and serving more than 50 students. The program will soon launch at Parkside Elementary School.
“I’m also really proud of the program’s perseverance and growth in the last few years,” said Shukri.
Students and teachers currently collaborate over Zoom. Program leaders hope program participants can meet in person one day soon.
For more information about the program, please contact Shukri Yusuf, Somali Language Learning Specialist.