Starr Forum: Somaliland (Sneak Preview)

April 29, 2017 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
45 Carleton Street, Cambridge

Film screening of Somaliland: The Abaarso Story
Feature-length documentary about five Somali Muslim students pursuing dreams of education in America.

Immediately following the film, there will be discussion and Q&A with the following speakers:
Jonathan Starr, Founder, Abaarso School
Mubarik Mohamoud, MIT student, Abaarso School Alum
Ben Powell, Co-director, Somaliland
Harry Lee, Co-director, Somaliland

SOMALILAND is a feature-length documentary about hope, perseverance, and the transformative power of education. After a destructive civil war with Somalia, Somaliland declared its independence in 1991 but has remained unrecognized since. In 2009 a young Wall Street executive moved to Somaliland and opened a high school to develop the future leaders of the country. The film follows five of his students as they apply to American schools and universities, with the hopes of their friends, families, school, and country on their shoulders. They are attempting to join the ranks of the first Somali students to attend US schools in over 30 years.

Abaarso School rises up past the rocks and acacia trees in the middle of the Somaliland desert---an oasis. It’s the lone school in the country where students pursue dreams of higher education in America. Farah, Abdisamad, Roda, Amaal, and Mustafa each wish to address a different failing in society so they apply to US schools and universities with the hopes of their families, friends, and country on their shoulders. 

Abaarso was started by an American with no experience in education. Jonathan Starr shut down his Wall Street hedge fund and recruited a team of unproven young teachers to work with the Somali students. Just as Starr felt that Abaarso was on the cusp of greatness, elements of society conspired against the school to cast the students’ futures in doubt. 

Co-sponsored by the MIT Center for International Studies, MIT International Students Office (ISO), MIT Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO), and MIT Libraries

More about the film

Free & open to the public | Refreshments served
Can't attend in person? Watch the discussion with the speakers on Facebook live or on-demand on YouTube.
For more information or accessibility accommodations please contact