Ilhan Omar visits Open Door Minneapolis

April 2024

Ilhan Omar tours Open Door Minneapolis campus wearing a black hijab and a tan blazer

Literacy Minnesota welcomed Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota's 5th congressional district to visit Open Door Learning Center in North Minneapolis on Thursday, April 4.

Representative Omar last visited an Open Door Learning Center in 2019 at our former Lake Street location. She returned, five years later, to see the recently-opened Broadway Avenue site.

The visit started with a tour of the new adult education classrooms and culminated in a roundtable discussion on the topic of literacy. Representative Omar sat with Literacy Minnesota learners, volunteers, staff, community members and leaders from partner organizations The Power of People Leadership Institute and Al-Maa'uun.

Ilhan Omar poses for a group photo with about 15 Literacy Minnesota community members

Discussion participants started by describing their experiences in the field of adult education.

Hassan described the four different classes that he attends and is happy to have them all in the same building at Open Door Minneapolis.

Teaching volunteer Bryce said he enjoys teaching the learning process and sharing in the learning. "It's like a mini mutual gratitude society. At the end of class the students thank me and I say 'thank you' right back."

Community partner Tyrus reflected that "literacy is the opportunity for a person to be whole."

Ilhan Omar visits Literacy Minnesota

Q: How can Literacy Minnesota advocate for literacy at a nationwide level?

A: "What you're doing right now! Invite the elected officials to be in community [with literacy-focused organizations]."

-Representative Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar sits at a roundtable discussion next to her husband, Tim Mynett

Representative Omar also shared her own personal connection to Adult Education: her grandfather.

After immigrating to the United States with her family at age 12, she watched her grandfather attend English language classes at a Minneapolis Adult Education center. After a few years learning English, he enrolled in a citizenship class. Although he had the option of taking the citizenship test in his native language, he was determined to pass the English-language version himself, and achieved that goal at age 80.

Later, Representative Omar herself would become an Adult Education teacher as a nutrition specialist.

Ilhan Omar laughs alongside Literacy Minnesota President Anton Jones

Finally, the roundtable discussed ways to strengthen literacy education and expand resources for adult learners in the future. "If I could invite congress to spend a day here, I would" said site coordinator Lloyd Brown.