AbstractsSocial Work

The resettlement of the Karen in Minnesota

by Kathleen J. Lytle

Institution: University of Minnesota
Year: 2015
Keywords: Karen; Refugee; Resettlement; Social Work
Record ID: 2061023
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/11299/171438


Minnesota has a long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees into its communities. Following the Vietnam War large numbers of Southeast Asian (SEA)refugees came to Minnesota. With the implementation of the Refugee Act of 1980, a formal refugee resettlement program was created nation-wide. As part of the Refugee Act of 1980 Voluntary agencies (VOLAGs), were established to help the refugees with their resettlement process. Soon after the arrival of refugees from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, refugees from other countries began coming to Minnesota. In the 1990s refugees from the former Soviet Union began resettling in Minnesota. In the mid 1990s refugees from East Africa began arriving. In the early 2000s, large numbers of Karen refugees from Burma began coming to Minnesota. In order to help the Karen refugees in their acculturation, it is important for the community within which they are living to understand them and their culture. Using an ethnographic approach, this qualitative research project is aimed at understanding the lived experiences of the Karen and their resettlement. It describes sources of stress the Karen experience during their resettlement, and it describes the experiences of key informants who have worked in the resettlement of the Karen to Minnesota. This research suggests that, for the Karen, the development of a social capital network of community support, established prior to their arrival, has been an important part of their resettlement experience. Although the Karen have a well-established network of social support in Minnesota, they continue to experience significant acculturative stress in all areas of their lives.