We're people with ambitions.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Maryan Del
  • Age at interview - 26
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Refugee
  • Date of Interview - 06.21.2004
  • Karmel Somali mall, Minneapolis, February 1, 2004. Minnesota Historical Society.
    Karmel Somali mall, Minneapolis, February 1, 2004. Minnesota Historical Society.

    We Are Here

    Community, Economics, Somali

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Contributions: How is America better off because of this group of immigrants?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Somalis began resettling in the U.S. as refugees after their goverment collapsed in the face of ongoing civil war in 1991.  Most Somalis have been grateful for the opportunity to escape the violence and provide a better life for their children in the U.S. Some may want to return to Somalia some day, but most are eager to start their new life here.  Somalis often see America as a place where any person can succeed or pursue opportunities that they would not have had in war-torn Somalia.  For example, many Somali young people are going to college to get advanced degrees and better paying jobs. In return, these recent immigrants should be recognized for the way that they are changing American society by adding new foods and words, running successful businesses that help the economy grow, and helping Americans to better understand Islam.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryan Del 11
    1:42 Minutes | 1.64Mb


    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    Interviewer: Andy Wilhide (AW)

    MD:  I want people to know that even though there's a lot of us here, I don’t want people to look at the negative side of Somalia. We might do certain things wrong in the system, but we’re people contributing to Minnesota. We have a lot of businesses. We have a great economic impact on Minnesota with our businesses. We’re people with ambitions. If you go around, you’ll see a lot of Somali stores, malls. We have a very rich culture, people should learn about us like we’re willing to learn about them. I think exchange… People should not jump to conclusions if they see something. They should just investigate it, learn from it, and maybe then they can make their own judgment of what it is.

    AW:  Do you think Somali people will stay here for a long, long time?

    MD:  Yes.

    AW: And become a permanent part of Minnesota?

    MD: I think yes, absolutely. Because we have kids who were born here. People are settling here. They’re buying houses; some are buying houses. People are investing in businesses. Because Somalia is not a safe place to be in right now because there’s no government, there’s no bank, there’s nothing stable right now. Everything is still…people are fighting over each area, "I wanna be president, I wanna be this." So I think people are willing to invest their life here. They want their kids to be educated, to be somebody. I think going back to Somalia, it doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities Minnesota offers you. I think Minnesota is a good state to invest… so we’re all of us moving here, you see? [Laughs]

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  The desire to achieve goals.


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


    Verb: To influence; to affect. (impacts, impacting, impacted)

    Noun: Influence; effect.


    Verb:  To put money, time, or energy into something, especially for some benefit or purpose.


    Noun:  An opinion; a decision.

    jump to conclusions

    Make a decision before being presented with all of the evidence.


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


    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: 547