Somali-American youth leaders program teaches conflict resolution techniques

A program in Minneapolis aims to resolve conflicts among young people, one conversation at a time.

The week-long program called SALAM or Somali-American Leaders and Mediators, was held in conjunction with the nonprofit group Community Mediation and Restorative Services.

“We don’t have to tell the people what to do,” said Farah Farah, a student who took part in the program. “We can tell them how to find their own solutions to their own problems.”

Twelve students took part in this initial program, getting intense training on mediation and conflict resolution.  The students now know how to use mediation techniques you may see in corporate boardrooms to solve disputes at home, at work, or among friends, so those conflicts are resolved peacefully and without violence.

“Positive tools, resources and programs will help,” said Saciido Shaie, president of the Ummah Project, a nonprofit community group. “Even if we train two, we train four because they have families, they have friends they can inspire and motivate.”

The SALAM program was thought to be such a success, organizers are working to launch another one in the near future.

The youth leaders are taking part in a year-long youth leadership project in partnership with the City of Minneapolis to help gain the skills to improve their communities.