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University Relations

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April 27, 2006
Contact: John M. Janzen, Kansas African Studies Center, (785) 864-2642 or Khalid El-Hassan, (785) 864-1064.

KU faculty to share stories of African immigrants at public meeting

LAWRENCE — Faculty members from the University of Kansas will join a discussion about African immigrants in Kansas at a public meeting of the Kansas Humanities Council-sponsored project “Voice, Identity, Community: New African Immigrants to Kansas.”

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, May 1, at Jewish Vocational Services, 1608 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

Farah Abdi, director of the Somali Foundation of Kansas City; Mohamed Omer, a member the Sudanese community in Kansas City; and Martin Okpareke, Jewish Vocational Services worker from the Delta region of Nigeria, are the featured speakers. Abdi will discuss immigrant organizations and the issues they deal with. Okpareke will talk about the place of African immigrants in the history of Jewish Vocational Services since World War II.

KU faculty members David Katzman, professor of American studies, and Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka, associate professor of women’s studies and theater, will comment on the presentations and the interviews with African immigrants that the project has carried out.

The African Studies Center at KU and members of several immigrant communities in Kansas City, Lawrence, Olathe, Topeka and Wichita have examined the experiences of recent immigrants from Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and other African countries.

The team for this project includes John Janzen, director of the Kansas African Studies Center and professor of anthropology; Garth Myers, associate director of the center and associate professor of geography; Khalid El-Hassan, program coordinator of the center; Melissa Filippi-Franz, graduate student in anthropology; and Abdulrahmane Gutale, graduate student in political science.

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