At least you know you are safe.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Maryan Del
  • Age at interview - 26
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Refugee
  • Date of Interview - 06.21.2004
  • Somali girls celebrate Eid al-Adha at the Mall of America, Bloomington.

    Politics, Somali, Travel to U.S., War

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    Push & Pull Factors: Why did this person come to the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    After the civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991 many refugees fled from Somalia into the neighboring countries of Kenya or Ethiopia.  Starting in 1992 the U.S. began granting visas to refugees from Somalia.  Minnesota quickly earned a reputation among Somalis as a good place to live, so thousands of Somalis who originally settled in other parts of the U.S. have now relocated to Minneapolis or St. Paul, or smaller cities like Rochester, St. Cloud, Owatonna, Waseca, Marshall, or Faribault.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryan Del 1
    1:18 Minutes | 1.24Mb


    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    Interviewer: Sumaya Yusuf (SY)

    SY:  Where were you born?

    MD:  I was born in a place called El'-Baradale, which is further down in Somalia.

    SY:  When and why did you come to the U.S.?

    MD:  I came to the United States because of the war in Somalia. I actually came to Virginia, in 1992, August of '92.

    SY:  Please tell me what the journey was like from Somalia to the U.S. What obstacles did you face?

    MD:  Coming from Somalia to America, it wasn’t really that hard. I think the only obstacle that I faced was the language barrier. That was my main obstacle that I faced. Because I think anytime you come to a new culture, new country, you have to try to adapt to their culture, to their language, to their system. That was the hard part, but, in the end, with the help of a lot of people and education, I think I have processed to it.

    SY:  When you came to the U.S., what were your first impressions?

    MD:  I think good! [Laughs] Coming from a war-torn country to a place that is peaceful, you tend to settle for it, even if you have difficulties in the long run. Because at least you know you are safe. You don’t have to deal with guns flying around.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To conform and make suitable.  (adapts, adapting, adapted)


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


    Noun:  Something that impedes, stands in the way of, or slows progress.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 537