Maybe this is the right place for me to stay, because they have a lot of my people.: 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 using a computer, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, 2004.
    Somali Independence Day, Minneapolis, June 27, 2004.

    The Journey

    Community, Education, Somali

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    Essential Question

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

    The Journey: How did this person get to the U.S.?

    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.  The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is the heart of the Somali community in Minneapolis.

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

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    Interviewer: Sumaya Yusuf (SY)

    MD:  I came to Minnesota when I was a senior here. I went to a half year of school.

    SY:  A senior in high school?

    MD:  Yes. I came here when I was senior, so that was 1996. I graduated in 1997. I came here for vacation in summer time. I wasn’t planning to stay here. But when I came in, I realized there was a bunch of Somali people here. In Virginia, there's only a few of us who are actually been here twenty, thirty years, or fifty years. So it was a little bit different. But when you come to Cedar Riverside, there’s a bunch of Somalis, the Coyle Community Center. So I figured maybe this is the right place for me to stay, because I have a lot of my people where I can observe my culture, my religion, and my traditions. I figure, "What the heck, I’ll just stay.” I went back, got my stuff, got my school changed, and I moved here, and Minnesota has been good to me.

    Related Glossary Terms


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


    Verb:  1. To follow the custom, practice, or rules (especially of a religion).  2. To notice or view.  (observes, observing, observed)


    Noun:  A custom that is practiced within a group.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 538