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Immigration in Minnesota - The Minneapolis Foundation

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Immigrants don’t only learn traditional “American” customs: they co-m<strong>in</strong>gle with other immigrant groups, as well, further blurr<strong>in</strong>g the l<strong>in</strong>es<br />

between cultures. While tensions may arise as cultures rub up aga<strong>in</strong>st one another, with open m<strong>in</strong>ds and through careful plann<strong>in</strong>g, communities<br />

can successfully <strong>in</strong>tegrate multiple cultures.<br />

As M<strong>in</strong>nesotans—both long-time residents and recent<br />

immigrants—live, work, and socialize <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly<br />

diverse environment, they often seek cues or guidance for<br />

<strong>in</strong>teract<strong>in</strong>g with people from other cultures.<br />

While it’s true that people from the same nation,<br />

ethnicity, or religion may share many customs and<br />

FOR EXAMPLE:<br />

Avoid rely<strong>in</strong>g on children as family <strong>in</strong>terpreters. Immigrant<br />

children are often exposed to age-<strong>in</strong>appropriate <strong>in</strong>formation when<br />

asked to translate for parents and other older relatives who don’t<br />

speak English. This is especially important <strong>in</strong> matters of health,<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ance, social services, and other sensitive areas.<br />

Be m<strong>in</strong>dful of body language. In some cultures, people tend to<br />

stand very close together <strong>in</strong> conversation, while <strong>in</strong> others people<br />

prefer some physical distance—especially between men and women.<br />

Mak<strong>in</strong>g or receiv<strong>in</strong>g direct eye contact can be uncomfortable for<br />

some people. Watch for physical clues to learn what’s comfortable<br />

and be conservative with touches such as hugs and handshakes.<br />

G E T T I N G A L O N G<br />

7<br />

practices, these can vary from family to family, and often<br />

become less pronounced over time. It is important to not<br />

presume everyone from one country or region adheres to<br />

the most traditional cultural practices, but rather to be<br />

respectful and aware of possible cultural differences.<br />

Family <strong>in</strong>volvement <strong>in</strong> decision-mak<strong>in</strong>g can vary. In some<br />

cultures, major decisions are reached by the family patriarch, <strong>in</strong><br />

consultation with clan elders, or through other collaborative<br />

processes. This means that sometimes an <strong>in</strong>dividual may not be able<br />

to make an immediate decision, but may need time to discuss it<br />

with other family or community members.<br />

Be sensitive to and accept<strong>in</strong>g of religious differences. Religion<br />

can <strong>in</strong>fluence dress, diet, schedule, choice of profession, and numerous<br />

other aspects of daily life. Treat these practices with the same<br />

respect you would expect to receive for your own.<br />

For more <strong>in</strong>formation on immigration <strong>in</strong> M<strong>in</strong>nesota,<br />

please visit www.M<strong>in</strong>neapolis<strong>Foundation</strong>.org.<br />

Tibetan American <strong>Foundation</strong> of M<strong>in</strong>nesota

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