February 10, 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T:

As US braces for refugees, one Maine town offers lesson of inclusion (Jessica Mendoza, FEBRUARY 8, 2016, CS Monitor)

Fifteen years ago, Lewiston, Maine, became a prime destination for a wave of Somali immigrants who failed to find housing through a resettlement program established in nearby Portland, the state's largest city. At first, it was a struggle: local schools wrestled with a sudden influx of students who spoke no English, and white supremacist groups rallied against the newcomers' arrival.

But today, the former mill town of about 36,500 is home to an African community of 5,000 - and their presence can be felt throughout the city in mosques, shops, restaurants, and the local champion high-school soccer team that features players from Somalia and other African countries.

The key, some immigrants say, is earning their neighbors' respect.

"When Somalis came in, Lewiston people, Maine people, they think we need welfare, but we don't need welfare," said Shukri Abasheikh, who owns a general store that caters to the African community. "We need jobs. We need peace. We need education."

And, boy, does New England need immigrants.
Posted by at February 10, 2016 6:07 PM

  

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