The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Social Work: M.S.W


Social Work


School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Linda C. Gensheimer

Second Advisor

Gary S. Whitford

Third Advisor

Tracy E. Ore

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Somali, Central Minnesota, Refugee, Culture, Diaspora


The research question considered in this study was: What are the challenges that Somali women face in resettling and readjusting in Central Minnesota? The methodology used for this research was mixed methods with interviews and a focus group. Five Somali women who spoke English were interviewed and six Somali women who had very little or no English participated in a focus group. The interview and the focus group discussions centered on resettling in Central Minnesota.

Five major themes emerged. We Used to Live Good focused on Somali women's experience of loss. The Traditions are Always in Me described the cultural challenges that Somali women have faced in coming to Central Minnesota. The theme of isolation was explored in Coming Out Here in the Middle of Nowhere. Another Pair of Eyes for Your Home considered barriers to parenting in Central Minnesota. Connection to the culture in Central Minnesota was illustrated in You Can't Know Another Person Unless You Sit With Them.

The results of the interviews show that loss is an overriding theme that the women deal with and learning the English language is key to connecting them to their host culture. Socialization is a huge need and can help to ease the women's isolation. Central Minnesotans can reach out to Somali women as they have reached out to Central Minnesotans which can also reduce their isolation. The cultural challenges that Somali women face, particularly that of parenting was examined and implications for social workers are presented.


I want to express my appreciation to the Somali women who so graciously and freely shared their stories and their wonderful sense of humor with me. You have taught me so much.

Thank you to Abdi, Fartun and the many Somali women who helped me with understanding Somali culture and saw the value in completing this study.

I am deeply indebted to my advisor, Dr. Linda Gensheimer, who encouraged me to follow my heart. Her willingness to share her experience with cross cultural research and her enthusiasm was invaluable. Your significant and continuous support and encouragement meant more than you know.

I want to recognize my classmates for their encouragement and humor, my coworkers who covered for me at work and Lacie who started me out on this journey. You all played a part in helping me complete this work.

I am grateful to my family who has supported me in many different ways: to my father, Bob, who shared his love of travel and learning people's stories; to my mother, Margaret, for encouraging the value of education and for cheering me on. Thank you to Chuck who took up cooking, to Daniel for technical assistance, to Kate for knowing I could do it and for keeping the family traditions going, and to Beth for heartening me with comparative school stress stories. Without you this would not have been possible.

Included in

Social Work Commons