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Documentary on Somali refugees to screen Feb. 17

RBroken Dreams FlyerELEASED: Feb. 15, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — A documentary about Somali refugees, titled "Broken Dreams," will screen Feb. 17 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The documentary's writer and producer, Fathia Absie, will attend the screening, which will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 102 of Hibbard Hall.

"Broken Dreams" focuses on the vanishing Somali youth of Minneapolis, Minn., home to the largest group of Somali immigrants in the country. Most of the Somali youth in the area came to the United States when they were very young, and many have disappeared. At least six young Somali men from the Minneapolis area recently died after returning to Somalia to fight for al-Shabab, a terrorist group with links to al-Qaida.

In "Broken Dreams" Somali parents talk openly about the dashed hopes and dreams they had for their sons. Community and religious leaders, as well as Somali youth in Minneapolis, discuss how these events have affected the entire Somali American community in the United States.

"Viewing this film is important because it shows how smart, caring and vulnerable youth are brainwashed and radicalized, whether it is to fight in Somalia or join a cult," said Dr. Kate Reynolds, associate professor of foreign languages at UW-Eau Claire. "This documentary highlights the fact that this can happen anywhere if we are not paying attention."

The event is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire departments of foreign languages and education studies, the Domestic Intercultural Immersion Experience Somali grant sponsors and the UW-Eau Claire student participants of the 2011 Domestic Intercultural Immersion Experience grant.

Reynolds led the immersion project with Dr. Aram deKoven, assistant professor of education studies, and 14 UW-Eau Claire students in January 2011. They learned of the documentary while in Minneapolis and worked with Absie to have it screened in Eau Claire.

"It occurred to me that this was one way the university could give back to the Somali community — by offering to show it here," Reynolds said.

Absie was born in Somalia and came to America when she was 15. She currently works as a freelance journalist.

"I want to share the message of the film with as many audiences as possible, especially young people," Absie said, adding that she is "extremely happy" that UW-Eau Claire is the first school or institution to screen the documentary.

A question and answer session with Absie will be held after the film, which is free and open to the public. Some content may be unsuitable for young children.

For more information, contact Dr. Kate Reynolds at renolkm@uwec.edu or 715-836-4067.

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MC/RD/DW

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