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Hartland Partnership Center Resident Committee Presents Brown Bag Discussion At Migration Conference

February 28, 2008 – Members of the Resident Committee at the Hartland Partnership Center will present a brown bag discussion on Friday, Feb. 29, 2008 during the 2nd annual International Conference of Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, Nonviolence, and Peace in the Officer’s Club at Fort Douglas on the University of Utah campus between 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. They will lead a dialogue based on their experiences of relocating from one country to another.

 Discussants include: Abdulkhaliq Mohamed, a 23-year old originally from Somalia who has lived at the Hartland Apartment complex since 2003 and has served on the resident committee for two years; Joseph Tut, originally from south Sudan, who has lived in Salt Lake City for over a decade and has lived at Hartland for 7 years, a resident committee member for 2 years; Muna Ali, originally from Sudan, who lived at the Hartland Apartment complex for 4 years and has served on the resident committee since it was founded in 2004; Suleyman Khalilov, an Ahiska Turk who has lived at the Hartland Apartment complex since 2006 and has served on the resident committee for two years; Juan, originally from Mexico, who has lived at the Hartland Apartment complex for three years and has served on the resident committee for two years; Lul, originally from Somalia, who has lived at the Hartland Apartment complex for 8 years and has served on the resident committee for three years; and Zohra Shah , originally from Afghanistan, who has lived at the Hartland Apartment complex for 5 years and has served on the resident committee since it was founded in 2004.

“What is unique about our situation is that while we have refugee status, we have no one place that we can say we are from.  We want people to understand this about us,” Khalilov said. Mohamed added that the group is “excited for this opportunity because we are getting the chance to talk about our immigration experiences with people who talk about these things everyday for their job.  We feel lucky.”

Social Work professor Dr. David Derezotes will help facilitate the dialogue between the resident committee members and other participants, along with the Peer Mentors (2nd-year master’s in social work students) who work with him. Derezotes has facilitated dialogues at Hartland with various groups, including the resident committee, and teaches the Dialogue Models class for the U’s Peace and Conflict Studies Program. He said he has invited the resident committee to visit the dialogue class this spring.

The seven-member Hartland resident committee serves as a liaison and advocate for bringing the Center and the community into partnership. Their efforts include talking with residents regarding their strengths, resources and needs, and ensuring that classes are culturally appropriate. The purpose of the Resident Committee is to expand the number of Hartland community leaders and introduce University of Utah representatives, students, and community associates to west Salt Lake neighborhoods. The group broadly represents the diversity of the Hartland community, and efforts are made to ensure the different racial, religious, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups living at Hartland are included.  Committee members receive a small stipend for six months of service.

Sponsored by the Barbara and Norman Tanner Center for Nonviolent Human Rights Advocacy, together with co-sponsoring units and organizations, the conference theme is “Migration, Rights, and Identities: Examining the Range of Local and Global Needs.” The presence of the resident committee is a way to “not only to bring the conference to the community, but also to bring the community to the conference, ” said Aleta Tew, a conference organizer. “This interactive session will help to make vivid the experiences of recent immigrants to Utah from a variety of parts of the world, as well as to lead into discussions of policies and programs designed to serve the needs of recent immigrants, including refugees. Ultimately, the conference will be a rich conversation between the campus and the larger community about a set of issues that touch all of our lives,” she added.

The 300 unit Hartland apartment complex located near 1700 South and Redwood Road is home to nearly 800 adults and children from all over the world-Somalia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Iran, Cuba, Peru, Sudan, Georgia, Bosnia, Liberia, Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the United States-75% of whom are non-native English speaking immigrants or refugees.

 The Hartland Partnership Center is coordinated by a team made up of staff from University Neighborhood Partners, and students from the College of Social Work. The Hartland Partnership Center is part of an expanded effort by the University of Utah toward civic engagement-a recognition that active collaboration between University and community groups can enhance learning, teaching, and research. While Hartland residents learn valuable skills, become active leaders, and familiarize themselves with pathways to higher education, University and community partners receive academic credit, practical experience, and increase organizational capacity. In addition, residents, community agencies, students and professors alternate as educators and learners, all participating and contributing to the educational process.