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Project Update: Mutual Adaptation between Karen Refugees and a Rural Minnesota Community.

Stone, Barbara.

This article reports on a project to identify key success factors for the Karen—a minority ethnic group from Burma’s eastern border along Thailand—in their relocation to Worthington, Minnesota. Based on in-depth interviews with refugees, civic, business, education, social-service, and faith-community leaders, several success factors were identified:

  • previous positive experience or comfort with diversity
  • available infrastructure that supports new immigrants
  • flexibility in shifting between worldviews and demonstrating culturally appropriate behaviors
  • interest in and a willingness to experience other cultures and values
  • extraordinary commitment of community leaders to help new immigrants succeed

Based on this analysis, the resettlement of the Karen in Worthington is a relocation success story. The lessons learned from this research regarding mutual adaptation between the Karen and Worthington residents can be used to help create smoother transitions as refugees settle in other diverse rural and urban communities in Minnesota.


CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
The research on which this article is based was supported in part through a grant from CURA’s Communiversity program.
42 (1): 15-16
Online availability
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CURA call number: 
Reporter 42 (1)

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