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Green River hosts Somali Back to School Campaign

Somali Back to School
The Green River coordinators of the event. Top row, from left to right: Ahmed Jama, Michael Tuncap, Hamdi Hassan and Ali Scego Bottom row, from left to right: Lyuda Zadneprovskaya, Hani Hassan and Shirlyn Zeno. Picture by Mohamed Ysuf of runtanews.com.

After Ali Scego returned from the National Education Conference for Somalia, he focused his efforts on making local changes. "When I came back from my trip, I decided to reach out to the Somali Community around Green River service area," he recalls.

Michael Tuncap of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion along with local Somali leaders helped Scego figure out how Green River could serve the Somali community and how to create awareness of Green River to the Somali Community. The Back to School Campaign event, held Sept. 7, launched these efforts.

An estimated 200 attendees participated in the vent, which was coordinated by outreach, financial aid, ABE and Transitional Studies, I-BEST, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Workforce Education.

The timing of the Back to School event was no coincidence. Somalia chose Sept. 8 - World Literacy Day - to launch their Go to School Campaign, an effort to enroll 1 million Somalis in school by 2016. The Somali Back to School Campaign here at Green River was launched as a local campaign to parallel Somali and world efforts.

The program opened with a Welcome Center workshop, then offered a presentation on Transitional Studies and Professional/Technical Programs. The participants could also attend a financial aid workshop, learn about Green River's registration process, and participate in a discussion panel with professional educators.

Somali back to school
The mayor of Kent, Suzette Cook, participated in the day.
Picture by Mohamed Yusuf of runtanews.com  

The event had a triad of objectives that appealed to every age. Younger students were encouraged to graduate high school and get their diploma; older teenagers learned how they could transition to colleges and universities; adults went through education that helped them understand that they could gain professional skills at Green River and learn livable wages.

The campaign is a true collaboration between Green River Workforce Education, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Welcome Center, and the Somali-American Parents Association, the Kent School District, the Road Map Project, and the Somali Community Services Coalition.

According to current calculations, at least nine people have directly benefited from the program and enrolled in Green River. Ultimately, however, the campaign hopes to bring in more full time students.

Right now, Green River ranks no. 4 in the state by full time enrolled students, trailing Edmonds Community College by 141 students. "We are going to break that gap," Scego said. "Now that 200 people came here, they will come back and bring 200 more. In the meantime, we will continue having informal meetings and conduct outreach events."

Have you read Ali Scego's story? Learn why the cause is so important.