(Mid)West of Somalia: Collaborative Documentary Plays March 1

The collaborative student-professor project explores the lives of nine Somalia-Americans in rural southern Minnesota.
Posted on February 22nd, 2018 by

Gustavus Adolphus College communication studies professor Martin Lang and recent graduate Noah O’Ryan’s documentary film, (Mid)West of Somalia, will run on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in the Saint Peter High School auditorium.

The documentary shares the stories of nine Somali-American men and women who are seeking success in the United States while also searching for a meaningful connection to the new home they’ve built in rural southern Minnesota. Set in Saint Peter and Mankato, the film captures moments ranging from funny to sad, including accidental encounters with forbidden foods and moments where differences in culture, faith, or skin color cause challenges for the new residents.

Noah O’Ryan ’17 and Martin Lang ’95

Lang and O’Ryan worked together for about a year and a half on the project, doing background research, interviews, filming and editing as they crafted the 35-minute film.

“The process took longer than either of us expected,” Lang said. “But we think it was time well invested, because it ensured a real collaboration with the amazing people who helped us tell these stories.”

“This documentary is a wonderful example of how our faculty collaborate with students to advance their scholarly work and provide students with a transformative educational opportunity,” Gustavus provost and dean of the faculty Brenda Kelly said. “What I especially appreciate about this project is how it connects Martin and Noah’s work with a community topic and broad group of people.”

The March 1 screening is free and open to the public. A reception will take place at 6:30 p.m. The film will run at 7 p.m. (approximately 35 minutes) and be followed by a panel discussion featuring local Somali-Americans who appeared in the documentary.

The community event is sponsored by the Saint Peter Recreation and Leisure Services Department, Learning is ForEver, the Nicollet County Historical Society, Saint Peter Family and Community Education, and Gustavus Adolphus College.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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