Somali delegation from Nordic countries visiting Minn.by Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Ten Somali-born professionals from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are visiting the Twin Cities this week.
The State Department sponsors the International Visitor Leadership Program program, which is intended to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations.
The delegates are visiting the nation's largest Somali community to examine successful models of integration. In Scandinavia, many Somali refugees are struggling and are out of work.
Daniel Getahun of the Minnesota International Center, which is hosting the group, said the delegates are all mid-career professionals who were nominated by U.S. embassies in their home countries.
"Many current heads of state around the world came on this program when they were young diplomats, so the State Department has done well in identifying people who will be influential years from now," Getahun said.
Saido Mohamed is visiting from Helsinki, Finland and said while welfare countries such as Finald have a stronger safety net for refugees, it's more difficult to integrate into society. Mohamed said she's heard about the success stories of the Somali immigrants here.
"Well, in Minnesota, we've heard that when you walk in the streets, you are in Mogadishu," Mohamed said. "I have seen [that] yesterday, and I love it. It's beautiful. I went to the restaurants, [saw] Somali food, and went to the Somali mall and saw Somali clothes. Here, you can have everything you want from your tradition, from your background."
The 10-day also included stops in Washington D.C. and San Diego. The delegates will return home Wednesday.