News / The Diaspora

Hope and heartbreak in Minnesota immigrant stories

By JENNIFER EHRLICH,  MPR NEWS   MAY 21, 2015

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Rahima Aman read from her writing at the Open Door Learning Center in Minneapolis where she is a student on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Aman, 45, was born in Ethiopia and runs Awash Dollar and Tobacco store in Minneapolis. (Jennifer Ehrlich/MPR News)

With a business to run and three children, Rahima Aman doesn’t have much spare time.

But she’s one of 512 adult students who wrote stories, essays and poems for “Journeys,” a literary anthology the Minnesota Literacy Council has published for 26 years.

“I don’t like to drive in the snow, I don’t like to be in the cold but still I feel like it’s my hometown,” said 45-year-old Aman, who was born in Ethiopia. “My husband died and is buried here. My kids were born here. I feel like it’s my second home here.”

The student writers include refugees and immigrants from more than 60 countries. Some are learning English as a second language. Others are U.S-born students mastering missed skills. On Thursday, 80 of the students will read before a crowd at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Aman settled in Minneapolis in 1991. She owns the Awash Dollar and Tobacco store in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and is working toward a GED diploma at Open Door Learning Center on Lake Street.

“My dream is for my kids to grow up and become leaders in the world,” Aman wrote in her essay.

The anthology is an outpouring of personal stories packed with hope, hardship, and love. Some describe struggles and regrets overcoming addiction. Others tell stories of escape from war, hard choices about leaving loved ones behind, encountering American culture and missing home.

Read the full story on MPR News 

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Copyright © 2015 Minnesota Public Radio. All rights reserved

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