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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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College of Education Collaborates on Youth Camp

Immigrant teens learning variety of skills in camp this week.

Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 6-21-2012

Boto Ogud wants to be a criminal lawyer when she grows up.

The East freshman has got the grades for it, too. So while she appreciated the scenery at the Blue Earth County Community Farm Wednesday afternoon, she preferred to hang back with several other girls and watch as mostly the boys did the weeding and sweating.

“I’m not really a farm girl,” Ogud said. “I like nature, but farming is not my thing.”

Sophomores Zainab Mohamed and Mana Mohamed (no relation), as well as junior Sumaya Hassan, agreed. But that didn’t mean they weren’t getting anything out of their experience during day one of the Youth Education & Career Camp, which included the trip to the community farm.

“This camp seemed like something you would benefit from,” Mana said, which, in addition to her mom persuading her, was the reason she signed up for the free camp, continuing today and Friday at Minnesota State University.

More than 20 immigrants, refugees and other under-represented kids in grades nine through 11 participated Wednesday. The camp is being put on by the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP), in collaboration with MSU’s College of Education and the Lincoln Community Center.

Ethan Bates, community coordinator with SWMHP, said the agency has put on several other camps in other Minnesota cities, including Worthington and Marshall. They all have been presented with the goal of exposing youth to careers in housing, community development and economic development; provide them with basic financial literacy skills; and give them college-prep information.

“SWMHP is a housing agency, but it does a lot of community efforts around southwest Minnesota,” said Imad Mohamed, an intern with SWMHP. (Editor's Note: Imad Mohamed is completing his internship as part of a field requirement in the Master of Social Work program at Minnesota State University, Mankato.)

The agency reaches out to immigrant youth to help provide them with the tools to pursue homeownership, to help integrate them into their communities and provide them with ideas for careers to pursue, Imad said.

“We talk about the need for developing a plan and getting an education,” Bates said.

Various MSU students assisted at the camp Wednesday, which included activities such as U of M Extension games, decorating small savings banks and a financial aid presentation.

Mana and Hassan said they benefited from the presentation on how to save money.

“It’s only been the first day, and I’ve learned a lot,” Mana said.

Bates said the community farm visit was meant to emphasize the importance of community service and to “not forget there are people in need.”

So far, about 30 students have signed up to participate at today’s daylong camp at MSU. Imad said same- day registrants are welcome.

Today’s activities include a campus tour, a presentation on MSU programs and a tour of Bremer Bank. Breakfast and lunch will be served.

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