Welcoming communities help refugees thrive and contribute.
Kisanet Woldu moved to Worthington when he was 4 with his mother, following his father’s dreams. The family’s journey to Minnesota began in Sudan, where Kisanet’s father was a refugee from Eritrea. With a visa, he was able to come to America.
“The ease of finding a job at the pork plant and having a Eritrean community in Worthington prior to him coming here made his decision to move here that much easier. Plus it was a small town and he saw it as a great safe place for his future children to grow up in. So after working endless shifts of back breaking work he was eventually able to get enough money to bring my mom and me to the states in particular to Worthington MN,” Kisanet shared for the oral history project Stories from Unheard Voices.
Courage and hard work led to opportunities in their new home and guided Kisanet through challenges in learning a new language, making friends and finding his own dream. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2019 with a major in environmental studies.
“My future goals are to provide people with a source of inspiration and hope that anything is possible and as long as they put forth effort, work and commitment they can achieve any goal they seek,” Kisanet said.
Since 1979, Minnesota has welcomed more than 109,000 refugees directly, and many others have moved to Minnesota from other states. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home because of war, violence or persecution, often without warning. Here’s a closer look at the distinct differences between a refugee, asylum seeker, immigrant, and migrant.
World Refugee Day on June 20 shines a light on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees to build empathy and understanding and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.
Newcomers and long-time residents alike deserve to live in vibrant, welcoming communities. When our communities become more welcoming, they can generate more opportunities for all, another step toward a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive.
- Read more of Kisanet’s story on Stories from Unheard Voices, a project of our Lead for America Fellow Andrea Duarte-Alonso.
- And check out the Welcoming Refugees Resource Library online from Welcoming America. We are a proud member of Welcoming America’s international network, a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs, including immigrants.