The Middle East Studies Center (MESC) at the Ohio State University has been a federally-designated Title VI National Resource Center since 1988, two years after the director of the Center, Dr. Alam Payind was hired in his role.
This means we have been receiving federal funding for the past 24 years to improve and facilitate Middle East studies at Ohio State, and to make sure knowledge about the Middle East is made available to local, regional, national and international communities. We do this by funding library acquisitions, supporting students with the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship, seeding faculty positions, organizing and supporting academic engagement and exchange, partnerships with universities in the US and the Middle East, and conducting numerous educational outreach activities.
MESC and the Center for African Studies (CAS) partner in the support and organization of multiple programs which promote Somali language and culture studies on OSU campus. CAS organizes major international conferences and institutes on Somali Studies in a wide array of disciplines.
Something Somali parents may not know that both MESC and CAS do is teacher training and classroom visits focused on improving the quality of information and teaching on the Middle East in American classrooms. This includes a more accurate depiction of Islam and the religious and ethnic diversity of the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries, such as Somalia.
One of the keys to inclusion lies within the content of the classroom, and students feel more comfortable when knowledge of their countries is considered a priority by their teachers and schools. Further, such knowledge must be presented in a culturally-sensitive way, which is any MESC and the Ohio State university strive to provide pedagogy training for diverse classrooms. It key that such diversity be engaged with on academic and identity-affirming levels, and not only through superficial culture festivals and the like.