In Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune there was an excellent article by writer Mila Koumpilova, Years with no nation, 90 days to become a Minnesotan. I read it with great interest, not only for the story it tells about the remarkably difficult passage of recently immigrated Somalis to the Minnesotan/American mainstream, but because my daughter has done similar work in Utah for the past several months.

Here in Minnesota, the caseworker’s name is Katia Iverson and you should click on the link simply for the opening photograph (which I unfortunately couldn’t reproduce here) of Katia standing by as several children of the Abdullahi family experiment with turning on an electric lamp. The simple phrase “their first home visit” immediately brings to mind the many phone conversations I’ve had with my daughter, who worked (continues to work, even as she returns to her academic teaching and research position this fall) tirelessly to find landlords willing to rent to immigrant families new to Utah, people with no credit rating and who often do not speak English. As you can imagine, that’s not an easy task, but workers (angels) like Katia, my daughter and some open-minded landlords seem to be making it happen, and places like Minnesota and Utah are welcoming families like the Abdullahi’s.

I would so much prefer you read the article I’m going to make this short today. Milo Koumpilova is wonderfully understated in describing the experience of the Abdullahi family as they transition to life in the United States. If you’ve ever thought “These people have it made, coming here,” please read Years with no nation, 90 days to become a Minnesotan. If you’ve thought recent immigrant experiences are comparable to your own family’s century-old immigration story, please read Years with no nation, 90 days to become a Minnesotan.

If you think there are no people left in the world willing to sacrifice everything they know and love for a better future for their children, please read Years with no nation, 90 days to become a Minnesotan.

And please keep Katia Iverson and my daughter and every person in each of the families they’ve worked to settle here in your prayers. May these families be safe until they are comfortable, hopeful until things start to go their way, proud of their courage and resolve, always. And may all of us do our best to welcome them.

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