Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Hailed as a Cultural Diversity Resource

In recent years, many immigrants and refugees have settled in Faribault, Minnesota, especially from Somalia and Central America. This has given rise to many cultural challenges, as has been happening in other communities across the USA.

This year students from the Political Science Department at St. Olaf College and one of their professors studied immigration issues in Faribault. They interviewed 39 community leaders and have produced a detailed report, available here.

I have been involved with the Faribault community for a number of years as a cultural consultant and mediator. I am delighted to see my work mentioned in the report, several times. Here is one reference:

Interviewees identified many existing print resources for cross-cultural education, including cultural sensitivity materials used by organizations like the Red Cross to train volunteers and Joseph Mbele's book Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences. Respondents repeatedly pointed to Faribault's abundant "human resources," or specific individuals who are experienced in mediating between cultures to resolve conflicts. Interviewees named Joseph Mbele, ESL teachers and public school cultural liaisons as important human assets to the community. (p. 17)

This is not news to me, having been closely involved with the people of Faribault for a number of years. I should simply note that, as the report shows, Faribault's community leaders have done some really useful work on the issue of immigrants and refugees and learned lessons that can help other communities across the USA.

The Africans and Americans book is available from the St. Olaf College Bookstore, toll free number 1 888 232 6523 and online here.

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