Community Voices, a program to help the recent wave of Sudanese immigrants become better acquainted with their community and its customs and services, started Sunday at the AEA building at Flindt and Russell.
Sponsored by ISU Extension, Community Voices moderators Rhonda Christensen and Jane Nolan Goeken met with a number of Sudanese people Sunday to help identify the program and discuss concepts such as leadership, government and civic organizations, and citizen involvement. The sessions will continue at 3 p.m. every Sunday for another eight weeks through April 9.
"The Storm Lake community is very lucky to have you as members and residents," Goeken said. Goeken said the Community Voices program is intended to make new residents feel comfortable in their communities. She said the program encourages the Sudanese people to actively participate in the community and to better understand leadership principles. Communities need good leaders to function well, Goeken said.
In a round-table discussion, the participants discussed the attributes of good leadership.
Those characteristics include the ability to listen, communicate effectively, care for others, hard work, respect, and the ability to work with others.
And, while communication is very difficult, seeing problems firsthand can help in resolving problems before they occur, the group agreed.
While the group of immigrants has less of a language barrier than others, there is much to learn in terms of culture, laws, health care and educational systems.
Goeken noted there are formal and informal leaders. Through the Community Voices program, Goeken said Sudanese people should be better able to ask questions of government officials and other people in the community.
Though the first session started Monday, participants are welcome to come at any point during the nine-session program. An interpreter will be available.
The next session will be held at the Storm Lake Public Safety Center at East Milwaukee and Oneida.
For further information, contact the Buena Vista County ISU Extension office at 732-5056 or visit the Extension office at 800 Oneida St. in Storm Lake.