Thursday, November 18, 2010


As part of my volunteer year, I live and work in St. Cloud with a refugee resettlement program. The majority of the refugees I help resettle hail from Somalia. They've spent the past 15-20 years living in refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, and a few other countries while a civil war has raged on in their home country. I've had a chance to get to know this refugee community. Like all of us, they have their strengths and their faults. I've learning about the Muslim culture. This experience is completely different than anything I have ever experienced.

St. Cloud, while pretty and situated nicely along the Mississippi river, is a racist town. Despite welcoming refugees into their city for upwards of 10 years, there are still many people who don't hesitate to voice their hatred of the refugee community. St. Cloud is a primarily white, German, and Catholic town. The Somali refugees are Muslim. They speak a different language. They look different. They have different dietary needs and prayer needs. Some people have embraced them as neighbors. Others...not so much.

Why do I write about this? This morning, weeks after the November election, I stumbled across two articles about a man who was elected to the school board. He has definite feelings about how Muslim students should be treated in the school district - feelings that I don't agree with. Frankly, his one statement made me sick. (Nevermind the fact that I don't think he is qualified to be an elected member of the school board). This article, originally published in the St. Cloud Times, includes the comment that I saw this morning. How he was elected to the school board, I will never understand.

After conversations with my other volunteers, I know that I (we) cannot remain silent and ignore the racism in the city that we are calling home for 10 months.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Snow Walk

"I think some traditions are nice. Birthdays. Holidays. Taking a walk in the first snow of the season." (Lorelai in Love and War and Snow)

When I was a kid, we used to take snow walks through the woods behind our house. We'd go during the first snow of the year. I always felt like I was ruining the snow because we were the first people to make footprints in the snow that barely covered the ground.

I felt like that again today as I traipsed around my neighborhood. I walked across the grass to the swingset and felt guilty. I went out by myself for my snow walk this year and couldn't believe how quiet the neighborhood was. It's never this quiet even at 10am on a Saturday morning.

I didn't mind being awoken at 9 this morning when I heard Will and Ann in the hallway. "It's snowing!" one of them exclaimed. I peeked out my window. Sure enough there was a dusting on the ground enough to cover most of the grass. I flung myself out of bed so I could eat a quick breakfast of Sr. Cordy's homemade bread and coffee before heading outside.

It's magical (and I love the pattern on the swingset).