Somalis in Minnesota: A Community in Transition

Two stories about the Somali community in Minnesota were published this week by local news outlets. One story by Star Tribune described new comers and the challenges they face. The other story was about Somali OB-GYN nurse in St. Cloud. Both stories indicate a community in transition.

The Star Tribune story chronicled how new Somalis are finding their way to the Twin Cities. Most of the new arrivals are not directly coming from Africa. They are coming via transit of another state in America. They are attracted to Minnesota by stories about the Somali community in Minnesota.

When they come, they found camaraderie but very little support in services. Sponsorship ends soon as they depart from their initial destination. They are left with whatever support non-governmental agencies particularly religious groups in Minnesota can provide.

The story in the Star Tribune profiled a family of eight coming to Minnesota after spending one week in Connecticut. They had no relatives in Minnesota. They went from the Airport to the Mosque. The Mosque paired them with another family who could only host them one night. The host family transferred them to local shelter run by a Church group.

This is macro trend in the Somali community. It’s a departure from the brotherly tight connection in the early days. Somalis used to spring to action soon as stories of Somali family in local shelter spread. Fundraisers were held for them. New arrivals used to get help with housing, closing and job search.

There was sense of responsibility to help by early arrivals for new arrival. That seemed to be fading away.

The St. Cloud Times profiled Hani Jacobson. The scene in the story is one of refugee success. Hani came to St. Cloud to visit family members. She stayed and established roots including a career and a family.

She currently works as an OB-GYN nurse at CenterCare Health Plaza in St. Cloud and lives with her husband Nathan and three children.

This is micro bellwether for the Somali community. More and more Somali women will be exploring outside the community to mate.

It’s aligned with general trend in other communities of color in Minnesota. Women and girls in other Hmong communities have been in trajectory of marrying into the majority community. It appears Somalis are also in lockstep.