Somali Youth Summit tackles tough problems

The three-day event was aimed at educating Somali youth and providing opportunities for leadership.

Maryan Yusuf, left, and Merrie Benasatti from the CHANCE program discuss the future of the Somali community at the second annual Somali Youth Summit on Friday.

Ashley Goetz

Maryan Yusuf, left, and Merrie Benasatti from the CHANCE program discuss the future of the Somali community at the second annual Somali Youth Summit on Friday.

Minneapolis, which has the largest Somali population in the country , has recently seen gang violence, a series of murders and the mysterious disappearances of about 20 men, two of whom were charged with aiding terrorists. In hopes of finding ways to solve such issues, the second annual Somali Youth Summit was held at the University of Minnesota Law School. Sunday marked the end of the three-day summit where hundreds of Somali youth discussed solutions to the problems facing the community. Abdisalam Aato , the founder of the Somali Youth Summit, said the goal of the summit is to identify and tap the leadership potential of Somali high school and college students. âÄúWe hope to create young leaders who can help solve problems in the community,âÄù Aato said. Abdulkadir Salah , the eventâÄôs coordinator, said after the problems were identified, the participants were asked to come up with concrete solutions for the problems, Salah said. Islamic cultural identity and surviving peer pressure were among the topics discussed. Salah said the Cedar-Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement (CHANCE) helped make the summit a reality. âÄúWe think that empowering young people to address the challenges that we are all facing is the right place to start,âÄù CHANCE coordinator, Merrie Benasutti said. Mohamud Treek , co-founder of the summit, said the event helped young Somali-Americans learn how to become better leaders. âÄúThere are conflicts within the community here in the U.S. and back home,âÄù Treek said. âÄúThe only people who can solve such problems are the youth. So, they need leadership skills.âÄù Fatuma Hussein, a nursing student from Nashville, Tenn., said she has learned a lot about leadership. âÄúMeetings like this will, indeed, change the lives of many young people who simply need role models,âÄù Hussein said. University economics and literature senior, Abdulahi Hussein , said he thinks this yearâÄôs summit covered more issues that concern the community compared to last yearâÄôs summit, which he watched on YouTube . âÄúThe speeches of last yearâÄôs summit were mainly about religion,âÄù Hussein said. âÄúHowever, this year we had a bit of everything that was significant to be addressed.âÄù Last year the summit was held in Columbus, Ohio, which has the second-largest Somali population in the United States .