Authored By

Mark Ritchie
President, Global Minnesota

Angela Schulz
Global Minnesota Board of Directors, VP Finance Operations at Target Corporation, and dual citizen of Germany and the U.S.

The emergency evacuation in August and September of thousands of Afghans who supported the U.S. government and military over the last two decades was both dangerous and complicated. The United States has a special responsibility with regard to this particular refugee crisis, and to those affected by the consequences of the extended U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

At the core of Global Minnesota’s mission and values is the advancement of international understanding in service to our community. Our roots in the early 1950s were as a welcome center for international students arriving in Minnesota without anywhere near the current online-level of available information. Early services included airport pickups, the distribution of warm clothes, orientations to grocery stores and the U.S. versions of appliances, and cold weather safety tips. Above all, Global Minnesota provided the opportunity to connect and share with people in Minnesota, and to learn from each other and build greater global understanding.

International students and scholars learn about life in greater Minnesota with a weekend trip to Brainerd in 1993 where they stayed with host families.

As needs change, so too did programs. Later, Global Minnesota began to offer expert speakers from newly arrived immigrant communities who wanted to share their culture and practices through popular programs that helped people in Minnesota better understand and welcome our new neighbors.

Today’s foreign policy programs give local audiences greater knowledge about what drives people from their homes and how decisions made here can affect people around the world. As we celebrate 70 years, Global Minnesota highlights the connections built between Minnesota and the world, and the work we continue to do to ensure this state is a welcoming place for those arriving from other countries. As our state and nation begin to welcome our new Afghan neighbors, Global Minnesota will support refugee resettlement efforts by connecting our network to community resources through which we all can offer help.

Our role is to raise awareness across our community and among our stakeholders about the arrival of Afghans in Minnesota. We want to provide information on the many ways all of us can offer our time, talent, or funds to this important resettlement effort.

This awareness raising is not meant to replace or duplicate efforts by existing organizations who work in this arena every day, but to highlight and support areas of opportunity that can welcome and aid our new Afghan neighbors. The most immediate need is to share emerging resources broadly with you, our members and friends.

Many people are looking for ways to understand and contribute to this crucial effort. At Global Minnesota, $10 of every membership or gift received now through the end of November will go towards building welcome kits for arriving Afghans, providing needed household items for families.

We also recommend the following additional ways to help:

The Minnesota Department of Human Services Refugee Resettlement program provides education and information about refugees in Minnesota.
Wisconsin Department of Children and Families offers guidance on how the general public can help welcome refugees to Wisconsin.

We believe that not only do we have a responsibility to assist global refugees, but also that our community will be enriched by these new neighbors who bring their energy, skills, and wisdom with them as they build new lives here. Building a more peaceful world through personal connections, learning from each other, and understanding global perspectives – these ideas are at the center of our mission.