Can you imagine just sitting there without knowing what they are talking about?: 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 with the flag of Somalia, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, 2004.


    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?

    Background Information

    Young Somalis are often able to get the support they need to learn English and to learn how to operate in American society in their schools.  There are ELL classes, and other supports for immigrant students, but the first few weeks are often difficult as they begin the process of learning English.  As more Somali children are entering the school systems in Minnesota, the teachers and school districts are trying to become more familiar with Somali culture.  The St. Paul and Minneapolis Public Schools each have created a job within their school district that focuses specifically on the needs of Somali students and parents.  This support person knows the Somali language, beliefs, and customs, and can provide support to classroom teachers and resources that allow the district to be better prepared to work with these young people.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryan Del 6
    0:25 Minutes | 0.41Mb


    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    MD:  I remember when I went to the school first day, I’d be sitting there…literally, you are deaf. That's how I felt, because you’d be seeing teachers talking, doing math or ESL [English as a Second Language] classes. Can you imagine just sitting there without not knowing what they are talking about? You can obviously tell they're writing something on the board, but you’d be thinking, "Okay, I have no idea what that is, but I’m just going to copy it exactly how it is." But otherwise, I think it’s good.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 542