They’re immigrant people - they’re like me.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Maryan Del
  • Age at interview - 26
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Refugee
  • Date of Interview - 06.21.2004
  • Women at Somali wedding, Minneapolis, February 21, 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.  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.

    In addition to a large Somali population, Minnesota has also become home to the second largest Hmong population in the U.S. Minnesota has also welcomed immigrants and refugees from throughout Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. Sometimes there are clashes between these different cultural groups, but sometimes they identify with one another and recognize the common struggles that they all face in trying to adapt to American life.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryan Del 4
    1:28 Minutes | 1.41Mb


    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    Interviewer: Andy Wilhide (AW)

    MD:  I got my education. I work. I adjusted to the whole country, the system, the culture, and everything. So it has been good. That was my aim, to learn everything. If you’re not open-minded, the world will shut on you. You have to give yourself opportunity to learn more. I think it’s good to learn other cultures because you have more opportunities to go around.

    AW:  What other cultures have you learned here?

    MD:  I’ve come to terms with American culture. I have a lot of Asian friends.

    I think I appreciate American culture because people are nice. They're friendly. If you ask them any question you want to know about their culture, they’re willing to tell you. The Asian culture, I have a lot of Asian friends, which is very good because I feel like more I connect with them. I think I have that connection with them because they’re immigrant people. They’re like me. It seems a lot of times we can talk about struggles, immigration, and all these issues that concern us. I think there’s always something to learn about their food and things. We talk a lot of times about, like, race. I think a lot of times, even our own cultures, we discriminate our own. So I think that's good to know because I think Somali people discriminate each other and Asian-Americans do. I think there's things to be aware of, for your own good.

    Related Glossary Terms


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


    Verb:  To make decisions based on fear or hatred towards a particular group, race or religion..  (discriminates, discriminating, discriminated)


    Noun:  A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country.


    Noun:  A chance for advancement, progress, or profit.


    Noun:  Debate; controversy; problem.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 540