International Institute

Saadiq Mohhamed and Sa'ad Hussein are two Somali soccer stars that have started a new life in St. Louis after leaving their war-torn home. They are pictured here working with children at a St. Louis soccer park.
J.R. Biersmith

There was a point late into the filming of “Men in the Arena” that director and St. Louis native J.R. Biersmith realized his relationship with the documentary’s subjects was fundamentally altered. A journalist by trade, this was a different challenge than he was used to — but then again, everything in Somalia, where Biersmith had traveled to shoot the documentary about the national soccer team, was a challenge unlike anything he was used to.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A musical collaboration between the International Institute of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony will have the sounds of Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Bosnia, Congo and Cuba streaming from the gym at the institute come May 3.

The purpose of Music Without Boundaries is to make immigrants new to the area feel welcomed by connecting them to the sounds of their homeland.

For Maureen Byrne, the director of community programs at the St. Louis Symphony, the collaboration was a logical fit.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Susan Gobbo, a native of Brazil, moved to the United States in 2005 and then to St. Louis in 2008 with her husband, who was offered a position stateside with Nestle Purina. Sounds like an exciting move, right?

One problem: Gobbo, a trained and licensed physical therapist in her home country, was not able to find a physical therapy job in the United States because many medical facilities viewed her as unqualified. The costs for training and recertification were high, so Gobbo’s high expectation of life in the U.S. deflated a little bit.

Sadik Kukic, far left, Benjamin Moore, Akif Cogo and Patrick McCarthy listen to a live stream of Radovan Karadzic's verdict while gathered at the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce on Gravois Avenue.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The European war crimes trial that’s been called “the largest since Nuremburg” ended Thursday, bringing uneasy relief to the St. Louis Bosnian community. Former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and one count of genocide, but many of the region's Bosnians still felt underwhelmed by the decision.

"A guilty verdict on any count is better than no guilty verdict. And that’s against the backdrop of realizing that the mere existence of a crime tribunal is a failure,” said Dina Strikovic. “It’s a failure to act. It’s a failure to prevent."

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Anna Crosslin is one of two people that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has nominated to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. On Monday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh talked with Crosslin, the CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis, about her experience for such a role.

International Institute of St. Louis president and CEO Anna Crosslin, today, and with her parents in Tokyo in 1952.
Anna Crosslin

The head of the International Institute of St. Louis says she is looking forward to taking her passion for equity to a statewide level.

Anna Crosslin is one of Gov. Jay Nixon's two nominees to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The Commission investigates complaints about discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on factors like race, gender, and national origin.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

When Shatha Alshati had her first American Thanksgiving dinner, there was one particular item on her plate that gave her pause: the turkey. The former Iraqi refugee who arrived here in 2009, said that while there are turkeys in her home country, they aren’t frequently eaten. 

A U.S. citizen as of April 2015, Alshati has perfected the art of serving a golden roasted turkey at the Thanksgiving dinners she now hosts.

Wayne Crosslin | International Institute of St. Louis

The immigrant population in the St. Louis region has been declining in recent years.

The U.S. Census released 2014 numbers on Thursday. In St. Louis’ metropolitan statistical area it showed an estimated loss of about 10,000 foreign-born residents between 2011 and 2014.

Bosnians and thier allies marched down Gravois Ave. Saturday in honor of the Srebrenica massacre
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

About 1,500 people gathered in south St. Louis to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide Saturday evening with a solemn re-enactment and walk.

Original Story published July 9, 2015

  Elvir Ahmetovic, 33, is a teacher in the St. Louis public school system. Twenty years ago, he was a child living through an event that has been called the largest civilian slaughter on European soil since the holocaust

“My parents thought, OK, this is something temporary, something ephemeral, we are civilized people after all, we will not let the situation escalate that bad, but unfortunately just in a matter of weeks they came to our village and started killing people,” he said.

Anna Crosslin
Courtesy of the Intentional Institute

Picking up your roots in one country and moving to a land with different customs and language is a daunting prospect. That story is not unfamiliar to Anna Crosslin, president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis.  

“I am a Japanese American and have grown up with my foot in two cultures. So what I have done for a living has been very grounded in what my personal mission has been, which has been building bridges between two worlds,” Crosslin said.

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Thirty people from different corners of the globe gathered together to share in the same experience Friday: Becoming a U.S. citizen.

The naturalization ceremony was held at the International Institute of St. Louis. It was the first ceremony held at the institute's new location on Arsenal Street in south city. The International Institute moved into the building, which is four times larger than its previous location, earlier this year.

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

A new program at the International Institute of St. Louis is helping immigrant professionals build job skills and advance their careers.The Career Advancement for International Professionals encourages immigrants like Tairou Goura not to abandon their professional ambitions.

International Institute
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Windows. That’s one of International Institute Director Anna Crosslin’s favorite parts of the International Institute of St. Louis’ new location. Its previous office building only had skylights on the second floor.

Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is a city built on immigration – from the early French settlers, to the Germans and Irish in the 1800s, to the more modern immigration of Bosnians and Southeast Asians.

While there have been numerous waves of immigration into St. Louis, the welcome extended by existing religious groups to new immigrants has remained fairly consistent throughout St. Louis' 250 year history.

Providing Resources

Emanuele Berry/St. Louis Public Radio

Tigrinya, Nepali, Somali, Arabic, Vietnamese: These are just some of the languages that clashed as translators relayed information about becoming a U.S. citizens to more than 100 lawful permanent residents. Many of those in attendance at the St. Louis International Institute event were refugees.

The information session covered requirements for becoming a citizen, the application process, classes available at the International Institute to help prepare for the citizenship interview, medical waiver information and success stories.

Akif Cogo
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis region’s Bosnian community long has been touted as the largest in the world outside of Bosnia itself.

But, as some local activists add ruefully, their numbers have yet to translate into political clout.

“We definitely have that sense of being ignored,’’ said Akif Cogo, founder of St. Louis Bosnians Inc., a nonprofit organization advocating for the tens of thousands of Bosnian-Americans who now call St. Louis home.

The first Thanksgiving comes every year for new immigrants

Nov 13, 2013
One of the International Institute's students and her young son go through the food serving line for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner that the Institute served Tuesday. For some of the 400 English and citizenship students, this was their first Thanksgi
Wayne Crosslin | Internationl Institute | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Typically, the concept of the first Thanksgiving conjures images of Pilgrims and Native Americans, turkeys and pumpkin pie.

For “Mina” Zahra Abdollahi, it is about all that and so much more, as she explained before an early Thanksgiving at the International Institute.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Saint Louis University economist thinks he has found a key to growth for St. Louis.

Professor Jack Strauss presented his findings this afternoon from an economic study that shows a direct correlation between an increasing immigrant population and economic growth. The study was originally released in June.

He says he thinks it is likely that the city’s economic slump is partly due to a dwindling number of immigrants living in the area. Four and a half percent of St. Louis’ population is foreign. In other large cities, that number is closer to 18 percent.