Buffalo is home to more than 22,000 resettled refugees from numerous countries. One of these countries, Somalia, has one of the largest of these populations. Sister Patricia Brady, Director of Service Learning, was contacted by the leader of the Somali Bantu community about helping him start an after-school program for the children who had difficulty completing their homework because these students had struggles with the English language. Her immediate response was that this would be a wonderful opportunity for service-learning students to be involved in a worthwhile project. She was particularly interested because the Somali Bantu are Muslim and that this would be a beautiful way to express a spirit of welcome and hospitality to our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Sr. Pat was able to use classroom space on the ground level in St. Mary Center, the central home for many Sisters of St. Mary, including Sr. Pat. Sr. Kathleen Dougherty graciously agreed to run the program with assistance from Sr. Mary Veronica and Sr. Roberta as well as a number of students from Canisius and Daemen College, who are partnering on this program.
Canisius service-learning students from several different classes, including Introduction to Philosophy (PHI 101) courses, staff the area from Monday to Thursday and work with the children from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. The program has even been used by a few of the Somali high school students. The college students are able to help local students while they develop an appreciation of another culture. The needs in the Somali Bantu community are great – not only is there a need for helpers for the children, but for supplies as well.
For more information about the program, including how to contribute supplies for the program, or about other service learning opportunities at Canisius, please contact Sr. Patricia Brady.
Submitted by: Sara Morris, PhD, associate vice president, academic affairs