Former ThreeSixty reporter featured on MPR

In fall 2008, ThreeSixty hosted a journalism workshop at the Minneapolis Central Library made up primarily of east African immigrant students.


Love bridges cultural gap

When I first met my boyfriend’s mother, Mee, she looked at me in disgust. It wasn’t because of the way I dressed, talked, or even acted, but because I was not Hmong like her.

I come from a dirt-poor, steaming hot country called Paraguay in South America. My mother, Susan Covey, adopted me. Beyond that, I know next to nothing about my background or heritage. I’m an American girl, but dating Seng Thor has opened up a foreign world to me here in Minnesota – the Hmong world.

Study abroad down, economy a suspect

If Renee Huset, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, hadn’t gone on a study abroad trip to South Africa, she wouldn’t have had a huge herd of zebras surround her on a safari.

“If that wasn’t cool enough, my friend Rachael told me to look to my left and I saw what looked like a scene from ‘The Lion King.’ Around a big watering hole were zebras, gazelles, wildebeests, and likely more animals I didn’t recognize running around carefree. It was amazing,” Huset said.

Fashion trend has roots in ancient history

Gladiator footwear was serious business 2,000 years ago when Roman warriors would wear them during battles, complete with over-the-knee plates to protect their shins. Today they are spreading quickly from retail stores to the streets with prices as low as $20 to as high as hundreds of dollars.

Somali youth labeled as terrorists

It’s a bright sunny day, perfect for basketball for Abshir Jama at the Brian Coyle Center in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis.

But for 17-year-old Jama, who was in town visiting his cousin, the day will end too soon.

“I have to be home before dark,” he said.

His family has imposed stricter rules for him, in an effort to protect him from violence in the Twin Cities.

Latino business, culture enhance Twin Cities

It’s hard to miss the green, white and red exterior of Don Panchos Bakery. The sweet aroma of freshly baked conchas greets you at the door of the shop on St. Paul’s west side.

In the back, Efrain Perez squeezes frosting into two-inch pink roses on a Tres Leches cake. He cuts bolillos and puts them in the oven. He chats with customers as he bags bread.

Living in America, waiting years for it to be home

Even though Cynthia Espinoza had lived in Minnesota for eight years, she had to pay out-of-state tuition when she went to Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

That’s because Espinoza, now 32, a political refugee from Guatemala, wasn’t a permanent resident, and didn’t qualify for in-state tuition.

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Two cultures, one family

Like hundreds of Twin Cities couples, Laura Lee and Abe Knudson are trying to raise their kids, hold two jobs, pay their bills and manage to find a little time for themselves.

What they are also doing is blending two cultures that stretch 8,000 miles from Minnesota’s Iron Range, where Abe grew up, to the highlands of Laos, where Laura’s parents were born.

Mac-n-cheese or ugali? This teen eats both

Having parents who don’t really understand your culture can be hard. I’ll have a conversation with my dad that goes like this:

“Hey, Dad! Can I go to the mall today?”

“You go to the mall all the time and it’s such a waste of money. Back in my day, we didn’t have a mall to go wander around in. We chased grasshoppers instead and we were so happy!”

“Um, Dad. Pretty sure if there were a mall in the middle of the village, the kids would rather go there instead of chasing grasshoppers.”

Immigrants have always been here

In 1948, May Breivik worked five days a week at a travel agency in Stavanger, Norway.

As she booked customers’ trips to the United States, she never imagined that she would soon be one of those passengers sailing to a new life in America.

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