We Are Your Neighbors: Things You Might Not Understand about New Immigrants

“There are many things that people in Minnesota don’t understand about new immigrants. There are many things in our culture that are different.”

Students at the English Learning Center are diverse. Our most advanced English class has students from Somalia, Mexico, Ecuador, and Ukraine. Recently, this class collaboratively wrote a piece that was published in the Alley Newspaper. It describes some of their experiences, many of which life-long Minnesotans might not even be aware. Some of the points were shared among the group, and some were unique to individuals or groups.

As students worked together in an effort to teach you more about new immigrants, they also came to learn more about each other. Please keep in mind, this class is speaking only of their experiences. They do not represent all immigrants or immigrant groups.

From the students of our Advanced Evening English Class:
There are many things that people in Minnesota don’t understand about new immigrants. There are many things in our culture that are different.

First, our religion is different. Some new immigrants are Christians, some are Muslim, and some may be another religion. One difference for Catholics from Mexico and South America is that they celebrate Virgin Mary on December 12. Muslims pray 5 times a day. Also, every year, Muslims have one month of fasting and two holidays. Many Muslims hope to go to Hajj in Mecca.

Many immigrants wear clothes that are different. Muslim women wear dresses, hijabs, and scarves that cover all of the body, except the face and hands. Some women also choose to cover their face. For many new immigrants, their home country is hotter than Minnesota. They need new winter clothes in America. It is very cold here, especially in Minnesota. There is no snow in many of the countries immigrants come from, so winter is new and harsh.

People get exercise every day in our home countries because they walk everywhere. In other countries, children play alone outside without adults. Mothers don’t worry about their children because neighbors always help with children more. Many immigrants have bigger families than people do here. The Grandparents live with the families, and family members help take care of older people and children. The government doesn’t help families with care. In some of our countries, there is no education for people with disabilities.

Business is different too. If you have a farm or want to sell something, you can sell it in the street. You don’t need permits. Drivers in some countries do not have insurance because it is too expensive. It is more dangerous to drive because sometimes there are no traffic lights. In our home countries, we ate all fresh food from the market or from the farm. We didn’t eat much junk food.

While there are many different people in America, we all live together.