Sahnun Mohammud: Giving a Voice to the Situation in Somalia

OCE Community Profile Series
By Daniela Sainz ’15 | October 2013

Sahnun Muhamed for blog

Sahnun Mohammud is a Junior at the college who has been heavily influenced by the civil war that has been occurring in his native Somalia for over 20 years. Partially inspired by his mother, who runs a Non-Government Organization in Somalia, Sahnun decided to lead an initiative on campus to raise student awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. Students for Somalia is an organization that raises awareness about the humanitarian crises and raises funds for development projects in Somalia. Here we explore how Sahnun helped create the student organization and some of the challenged that he has had to overcome to bring it into fruition.

Office of Community Engagement: How are you involved in community engagement at William & Mary?

Sahnun Mohammud: I give a voice to the situation in Somalia – I educate the campus community on the humanitarian struggle that has been happening for the past two decades in Somalia. We campaign for topics to be addressed and for guest speakers to come to our campus. We work on several projects, primarily projects that focus on development in Somalia. We raised over $6,000 in collaboration with Purdue University for an Internally Displaced People Camp to be built. It’s currently in the process of being approved for construction, but the process will begin in the next few months.

OCE: What does active citizenship mean for you?

SM: Active citizenship means someone who recognizes that they are a part of a society, and they strive to better that society outside of themselves.

OCE: How has your experience working in the community affected your educational career at William & Mary?

SM: It has made me develop fantastic leadership and social/interpersonal skills. They are very different skills from the ones that you learn within a classroom setting. It definitely made me more well-rounded.

OCE: How do you plan to use what you’ve learned as an engaged citizen beyond William & Mary?

SM: I plan to start a business. I have the leadership, organizational, and interpersonal skills from my experiences with Students for Somalia. I plan to be in a similar situation when trying to organize people in the future. I would like to think I will be well prepared to organize people and organize them well.

OCE: What is the most memorable or striking moment you experienced during your engagement work?

SM: The first meeting we ever held for Students for Somalia consisted of a small group of people that had a vision, but not sure how to implement it. After the meeting was over, we had created a place to meet, and we had a trajectory in mind. We got down to it. We weren’t sure about a lot of things but the whole organization had been conceptualized.

 

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About Melody Porter

Hello blogosphere! While I am a relative newcomer to you, I am a long-time fan of human connection. I used to say that my major in college (above my actual political science & religion double major) was in friendships. Conversations over long meals or late nights on dorm hallway floors have been transformative in my life, and it only makes sense to me to dip my toe into new ways of opening up conversation here. Some details about my life and role at W&M: I have worked at William and Mary since August 2008, and am Associate Director in the Office of Community Engagement. I spend my time fostering student leadership in the broad areas of alternative breaks and local anti-poverty initiatives. Doing so lets me fulfill what I understand my calling to be about: working for social justice in the world, and equipping others to do so with skill, sensitivity and great love. And my pre-W&M life... I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religion from Emory University in 1995. After graduating, I decided to get further into the world of community development and service. I served as a long-term volunteer for three years, beginning a job development program in Philadelphia and working with preschool children in Johannesburg, South Africa. I came back to Emory to earn a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology in 2001, with a focus in religious education. I spent a frenetic and exciting year working four jobs - from TA'ing a preaching class with Tom Long, to catering barbecue, to managing a nonprofit family literacy program with immigrant and refugee families. I went on from there to be Associate Minister at First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, working in areas of social justice and community development, and directing an after school program that served more than 100 high school students. Finally, it was one more stop at Emory - where I served for three years as director of Volunteer Emory, a student-led department for community service. Through all of my professional and volunteer experiences, and life in general, I have seen how connected and interdependent people and communities are everywhere I believe in the power of mutual service to transform lives and create social change. I also love cheese fries.

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