a strong start to a new life

The International Institute of Minnesota welcomes New Americans to the Twin Cities and offers them a continuum of services to promote their full integration into our community. The Institute’s programming includes job training and language classes as well as refugee resettlement, immigration, citizenship, and anti-human trafficking services. We are guided by the knowledge that a strong start to a new life enhances the ability of New Americans and their children to contribute fully as members of our community.

Spotlight on Results

A nursing assistant student celebrates successAlthough students in our Nursing Assistant Training are foreign-born and second language learners, our graduates continue to pass both the written and skills portions of the State certification test at a higher rate than all other test takers in the state of Minnesota. In the past five years, 85% of all nursing assistant students were employed following certification. On top of these excellent employment statistics, our graduates have strong job retention records in an industry where turnover is common – 90% are still employed after six months and 88% are still employed after one year. Our Nursing Assistant Training is in its 20th year, and in January we enrolled our 2,000th student.

Refugee Experience

Somali Refugees FleeingRefugees are forced from their homes and communities by war, persecution, and famine. When refugees flee, they leave with only what they can carry. Many refugees hope that they will one day be able to return home. The journey to refugee camps is dangerous; many who leave die on the journey. Often the violence the refugees are trying to escape continues until they cross the border into a neighboring country. Refugee camps vary significantly around the world, but they do all share some common features. Refugee camps are intended as temporary establishments for small numbers of people. Camps are often overcrowded, and some of these “temporary” camps have existed for more than two decades. Refugees are resettled only when there is no other option; only about one percent of the 15.9 million refugees in the world are resettled to third countries in a year. Once a refugee is relocated to the United States, they are supported by a Voluntary Resettlement Agency, such as the Institute.

Meet Shegitu

Shegitu KebedeWhen Shegitu fled her home in Ethiopia, she was unable to bring food or water. Her only map to the refugee camp was the pointed fingers of passing truckers telling her to head “that way.” She had no idea what would happen even five minutes into her future. And still she walked on. She walked for three months during the night and hid herself during the day. When she arrived at the refugee camp outside of Nairobi, Kenya, she received a name badge, a number, and was assigned to a room with six bunk beds. And then she waited. Shegitu’s camp was a warehouse for people. There was no work, no farming, no activity besides waiting in line for a week’s worth of rations. One of her fellow refugees said every morning, “This strong, capable person is growing old and dying in bed.” Life had no purpose beyond the slim hope of resettlement. In a camp where many died of curable diseases, Shegitu gave birth to her son. After three years in the camp, Shegitu and her son received news that they would be resettled in North Dakota. Shegitu was thrilled. She knew she would finally be treated like a human being again. They arrived in November, and Shegitu was shocked by the winter landscape. She wrote back to her friends at the camp, “You guys will not believe where I am, not only are the people white, but the land is also white!” Shegitu taught herself English by watching Sesame Street with her son, and just a few months later, she translated for a family of newly-arrived refugees from Ethiopia. Shegitu has since relocated to the Twin Cities, and is an author, an advocate for refugees, and the co-owner of an Ethiopian restaurant in St. Paul. While Shegitu is an extraordinary woman, hers is not an extraordinary story; it mirrors the experiences of thousands of refugees who are forced to flee their homes and create a new life.

News & Upcoming Events

Nursing Assistant Training Program Entrance Exam
Wednesday, December 2nd, 9:00 a.m.
Walk-ins welcome. Call Julie at 651-647-0191 x 314 with questions.

Check out our blog for the latest on what’s happening at the Institute.