Everything I have to do on my own.: 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, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, September 18, 2004.
    Somali family, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, September 18, 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?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Starting in 1992 the U.S. began granting visas to refugees from Somalia.  There were many more refugees than visas available, so it was common for one family member to arrive on his or her own without friends or family.  Once a refugee or immigrant is established in the U.S., he or she can petition the government for visas for other family members.  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 Minnesota.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryan Del 3
    1:43 Minutes | 1.66Mb


    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    Interviewers: Sumaya Yusuf (SY) and Andy Wilhide (AW)

    SY:  What have been some obstacles or hardships that you have faced while adjusting to life in America?

    MD:  I think my obstacle would be not having my family here.  That was the hardest thing.  Because I think if you don’t have a support system from your family it’s a little difficult.  You have to go to school.  You have to work because you have to support your family back home.  I think that's my most obstacles.  I don’t have that support system.  I don’t have that push, so everything I have to do on my own.  I think that’s the hard part of being in America.  I think you feel like you’re lonely.  I’m not saying you’re lonely like you don't have any relative, but you feel that loneliness of not having that compassion for family, the support and the love you need to strive your goals.

    AW:  So where is your family?

    MD:  My family are in Somalia.  They’re spread all over Somalia.  Some are in different cities.  Then I have one brother in Pakistan.

    AW:  Who is here?

    MD:  Just me.

    AW:  Just you in Minnesota?

    MD:  Yes.  I came with my aunt.  She lives in Virginia.

    AW:  You are here and your aunt is in Virginia and your cousins are in Virginia?

    MD:  I have some cousins here, second cousins.  But in America, you don’t see each other.  It doesn’t matter if they’re first cousins because you have to go to work, school, and you have your own family sometimes.  So you don’t even get a chance to see each other.  Really, I don’t consider that a family.  I consider family where you come home and you see people are home.  You don’t just come to empty home.

    AW:  How do you stay in contact with your family?

    MD:  Phone.  I send them money every month.  We just keep it up with communication.  That’s what we do.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: The exchange of information between different parties.


    Noun:  Difficulty or trouble; hard times.


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


    Verb:  To try to achieve a goal; to try earnestly and persistently.  (strives, striving, strove/strived, striven/strived)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 539