Oct - Dec 2011, Other

About “Hawo’s Dinner Party”


With tensions mounting between the U.S. and the Muslim world, integrating newcomers from those countries raises a whole set of sensitivities and challenges. That’s where “Hawo’s Dinner Party: The New Face of Southern Hospitality” comes in. This half-hour DVD serves as a tool for community leaders including educators, clergy, law enforcement, public officials, and employers who are helping to integrate newcomers with unique needs, often against considerable obstacles. By focusing on the experiences of several Somali residents in Shelbyville including Hawo, a refugee and former nurse who now works at a local poultry processing plant, and Mohamed, the local imam the module puts a human face on the complex issues we face in this time of increasing globalization.

By following Hawo through ESL classes, a tense meeting with the local reporter who has little knowledge of the community he’s reporting about and, most importantly, into her living room for dinner with her newest neighbors and as she reflects on her flight from civil war, what it feels like to live in such a radically different culture and her vision for making this small town her permanent home, the viewer is invited to take a walk in her shoes. These scenes and interviews with longer-term residents provide the context necessary to address the growing distrust of Somalis, offering a valuable opportunity to reach out to them and others from Muslim majority countries, deepen discussions, break the ice around difficult issues, and enhance cultural competency among service providers.