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    Building bridges between the present and the past

    Day 273

    The Next Generation

    When people are displaced, they’re taken away from the environment that fostered generations of culture and community. For families who have the opportunity to resettle into a new home and begin rebuilding their lives, they often work hard to maintain these traditions – to remember and honor their history and to carry this identity forward.

    But this isn’t an easy task. Over the last 30 years, thousands of members of the Oromo community found Minnesota to be their new home. While many of their experiences have been positive, filled with welcoming neighbors, it can be difficult to fully express your cultural traditions. This is especially challenging for the next generation – Oromo youth who were born in Minnesota.

    In an effort to ensure Oromo youth learn about their heritage and traditions, an organization called Oya was born. The current president of Oya, Maggie, wants to ensure young people in her community have the opportunity to learn and feel confident in what it means to be Oromo. Through Oya, youth have been able to gain a deeper understanding of their ancestors and express their identity in a powerful way.

    We are so inspired by Oya. And we wanted to do something to help.

    Together with the Oya team, we helped create space for young people to share their traditions and gifts with others – through art, dance and celebration! Young people donated their time and talents to make it all happen – and we purchased items to bring the activities to life.

    One activity was to create a beautiful piece of canvas art while learning about the meaning of the tree symbol. The tree represents the tradition of gathering under a tree when resolving conflicts and discussing important issues in the community.

    Binyam volunteered to teach youth how to paint the symbolic tree. “I don’t volunteer as often as I should,” he said, “and I want to volunteer more. So any chance I have to give back to the community, I should take it. And this is a great chance to do that.”

    “I love music and enjoy sharing it with people,” said Faku, the DJ at the gathering. “And it’s beautiful when it has connection with a group like this. It was a very good experience.”

    For Maggie, “the purpose of this is to unite and bring together youth.” Not only was this an opportunity for others to learn about the Oromo culture, it was an opportunity to remind and encourage Oromo youth of the beauty, joy and hope of their heritage – something they should be proud of.

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    Changemakers 365

    by Alight


    The world’s tough problems can seem insurmountable. So at Alight, while we tackle those big problems we also do what’s doable. Right then. And that’s what Changemakers 365 is all about. Learn more!


    Changemakers 365 members give either $30 per month or a one-time gift of $365 (it’s free for anyone who has ever lived in a refugee camp). Join us!

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