America is hard, but you can do it.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Maryan Del
  • Age at interview - 26
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Refugee
  • Date of Interview - 06.21.2004
  • Teenage Somali girls perform at Arlington High School multicultural fair.


    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Assimilation: Does a person have to give up part of his/her culture to become more American?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Somali refugees in the U.S. face the challenge of not only learning how to live in American society, but also how to maintain their traditional ways. For example, some women continue to wear the hijab (headscarf) and traditional flowing dresses, while others give up the hijab entirely, and others compromise by wearing the headscarf with more American clothes.  Each person struggles with the ongoing decisions they must make concerning which parts of American culture to adopt and which parts of Somali culture to keep.

    To learn more about Somali history and culture, visit our Somali Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryan Del 5
    0:42 Minutes | 0.68Mb


    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    Interviewer: Sumaya Yusuf (SY)

    SY:  What advice would you give to Somali teens who are adjusting to life in America?

    MD:  I can tell them that America is hard. Because you have to learn the language, the culture. But you can do it. You have to go to school, try to learn the language, and preserve your own culture. I’m not saying you leave your culture and language behind. You keep that and your religion. But if you think you’re going to live here the next ten years, fifteen years, twenty years, I think you should go to get yourself educated and learn the language. Take the good part of America, and leave the negative part of it, because only the positive will take you somewhere. The negative will hold you back.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Verb:  To protect; to keep; to maintain the condition of.  (preserves, preserving, preserved)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 541