Kessel Peace Institute advocates for refugees in Minnesota

Oluwatomike Bali
Staff Writer

The Kessel Peace Institute held a panel discussion on serving and advocating for refugees in Minnesota Tuesday, on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The event started off with each member of the panel giving a short presentation on being a refugee, what it meant to them.

The first speaker was Ayan Musse, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia. Musse, who is also a student at MNSU, started off by asking what refugees mean to the audience, and the different things they had heard about them. After various answers from the audience, she further asked the difference between refugees and immigrants. Musse explained that a “refugee is someone who was forced to live their county due to some crisis while an immigrant is someone who chooses to live.”

The second panelist, Nimo Farah, is an artiste and an activist from Somalia, who moved to the U.S. as a refugee. She presented by reading a couple of short poems she wrote. Farah said she draws her inspiration from older women because she spends a lot of time around them. Farah also read a poem she wrote for her “Ayeeyo”, which means grandmother in the Somali language.

The third speaker, Tou Saiko Lee, is a storyteller and a hip-hop recording artist, who is from the Hmong cultural background and was born in a refugee camp. He started off by talking about his works mentoring younger generations. Lee said, “Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of positive role models.” As a recording artist, Lee is popular for his collaborations with his grandmother.

The fourth panelist was Jay Shahidi. Shahidi centered more on data facts and positive influence of refugees in the United States. In his presentation, he mentioned that refugees boost the GDP growth in the country, and they have higher employment rates. Shahidi is from Iran and went to school at MNSU.

A Q&A session started immediately after the panelists finished talking. The moderator asked some questions and later on questions from the audience were entertained.

Header photo by Maria Ly | MSU Reporter.

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