What's the first step in bridging cultural divides?

by Michael Caputo, Minnesota Public Radio
April 16, 2010

Discussions of race and diversity typically rise up when there are tensions, as we’ve seen in St. Cloud in recent weeks.

Bridging cultural differences is cited as the antidote to misunderstanding between immigrant groups and the native people of a community. The question is: How do you make that happen?

Well-meaning people are busy. There aren’t a lot of ready opportunities for people of different cultures to share. So how do you make connections happen in a place where new immigrants are choosing to live?

Minnesota Public Radio News invited four people with real-world experience in taking that first step for an online discussion Friday afternoon. The full text of that conversation is below.

Contributors: Elizabeth Kong, Kao Choua Vue, Mayuli Bales, Chukwunyere Ugochukwu

Contributor bios:

  • Elizabeth Kong, a Sudanese immigrant who now lives in Mankato and is still working to integrate into the community

  • Kao Choua Vue, the daughter of Hmong immigrant in St. Paul

  • Mayuli Bales, a Latina immigrant living in St. Cloud and coordinator of Casa Guadalupe, a Hispanic ministry and outreach program run through St. Boniface Church

  • Chukwunyere Ugochukwu, an assistant professor at St. Cloud State University who spoke at an immigrant workers conference last week spoke about new communities of color in small towns and rural areas.