World

Immigrants transforming the Twin Cities

Twenty years ago, city planners and politicians in the Twin Cities were worried about the future of University Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis. There were too many vacant storefronts, too few customers and too much violence.

Today that picture has changed thanks to dozens of new businesses that reflect the growing diversity in the Twin Cities. From a Hmong grocery to a Latino Mercado to a Cambodian curio shop, the streets are changing.

Test your immigration IQ

What percentage of Minnesota babies have foreign-born mothers? What percentage of Minnesota students are non-English speakers? Test your knowledge of immigration, or learn all about it.

Alex's colossal cross-country cycling odyssey

Starting on Sept. 21 of last year, 18-year-old Leo Alex Heegaard-LeGros set out from Minneapolis on a biking expedition lasted for about 2 1/2 months and passed through the plains, mountains and deserts.

Alex’s expedition that crossed five states — Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah – and lasted until Christmas. “I think I really decided to do it during the college application process,” he said.

One might wonder what possessed the recent high school graduate to embark on such an arduous excursion. Contrary to what the more outdoor-averse of us might think, Alex’s driving force wasn’t insanity.

AUDIO STORY: Tribe from Cameroon carries on traditions in Minnesota

John Akam was a farmer from Cameroon. He moved to Minneapolis in 2004 and died eight months later with a serous heart problem, after surgery.

Akam was Meta, an ethnic group of Cameroon. In meta culture, those who die must be buried where they were born.

Sendng Akam’s body back to Cameroon would have been too expensive, but the Meta Cultural and Development Association, or MECUDA, helped his family.

Resolve to help others this New Year

Start with a menu of fruit and protein shakes, mix in a gym membership, add a pinch of New Year’s eve optimism and voila: a typical New Year’s resolution.

Usually such a recipe has an expiration date around the end of January — resolution unresolved, goals forgotten. The typical resolutions, such as lose weight and make more money, seem to be a concoction for failure, so I am proposing a new recipe.

Instead of resolving to helping ourselves, the new recipe would call for us to help others.

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VIDEO: Cloggers and teen step team "Steppin Out" of cultural differences

An inner-city high school step team, the DeLaSalle Delasouljah Steppers, and a group of Appalachian cloggers, the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, combined their dances into a fusion performance Dec. 5-7 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis to show that the similarities in the two cultures’ dances also exist in the people who dance them.

Here in America, dreaming of home

I remember my first day of school in America in 2005. I didn’t even know how to introduce myself to my new classmates in English.

When I walked in the 9th grade class at Augsburg Fairview Academy for Health Careers in Minneapolis, there was a group of students who were introducing themselves. When it was my turn, they looked at me and waited for me to talk.
I felt like I was in a cage and couldn’t breathe. The teacher said: “What is your name?” But honestly I had no idea what he was saying. I asked a Somali girl sitting next to me what the teacher was asking, she told me to say my name. “Sadiyo,” I said.

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Education teaches former child maid to speak out

Mardia Hahmed only went to school until fifth grade in Ethiopia. In order to help her family, she had to quit school and work as a maid for people she says treated her like an animal.

She was expected to do every thing in the house: housekeeping, cooking, taking care of the children, taking care of their livestock — like goats, cows, horses and sheep. She also washed clothes by hand, using water which she carried on her back a long distance from a river.

“I was working a long time without resting. I didn’t have a chance to sleep on a bed, which I always wish. They don’t let me eat my meal the same time they eat. I have to eat after they eat and I have to work the whole night unless I finish my job,” Hahmed said.

Immigrant women find help against abusers

“Nagma” was 18 years old when she was swept off her feet by a man while attending college in her native Zambia.
She graduated two years later with a degree in journalism and a baby daughter. Nagma moved in with the baby’s father soon after the birth. It seemed like happily-ever-after to her.

But it turned out not to be the fairy tale ending she hoped for. Twenty years later, Nagma, 38, is a resident at Home Free, a shelter for abused women and children located in Plymouth.

Love and happiness turned into the nightmare of domestic abuse. It began in Zambia. It followed her when she relocated to the United States.

Befriending exchange students broadens horizons, world view

At Eden Prairie Senior High School, Karin Paul is known as the foreign exchange student who stood up in front of the entire student body at a pep fest and asked if anyone wanted to go see the band Coldplay with her. She’s experienced many American traditions for the first time this year, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and skiing on Minnesota’s “hills.”

Karin Ingrid Anne Maria Paul, 18, moved this summer from a small town in Sweden that was established nearly a millennium ago to Eden Prairie, a 1880s-farming town that is now a Minneapolis suburb.

Befriending the exchange students at your school can show you a perspective of America only a foreign student can show you, and can teach you about other world cultures.

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