Maybe you’ve called the Twin Cities home all your life, or perhaps you’re a recent arrival yourself. Either way, it’s a fun and insightful experience to see your home through the eyes of a newly-arrived refugee neighbor. Whether you’re a volunteer Befriender, Resettlement Assistant, or part of a co-sponsor team, we hope you’ll find some ideas here of places you might want to experience with your refugee friend. We’d love to hear your ideas of must-see attractions in the Twin Cities too!
The Twin Cities is home to TONS of farmers’ markets all summer long, and even hosts a couple through the winter. Taking a walk through an open air market with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables might feel like a welcome taste of home to some refugees. Plus, many of the markets accept EBT funds to pay for food, so this could be a great connection to show a new refugee. To find a market nearby and their hours, look here: http://twincitiesfarmersmarkets.com/
Como Conservatory and Zoo:
This free attraction is popular with adults and children alike. Families can see a wide variety of animals from around the world and enjoy the beautiful and relaxing gardens. Many refugees will spot plants or animals that are familiar to them from their home country, and it’s great to see that smile of recognition. Plus, the gardens are such a welcome sight and smell of greenery in the cold winter months.
The library system in the Twin Cities is incredible. Be sure to visit the local library with a new refugee family, and you’re sure to find out about a new program yourself! From baby story times to job search assistance, computer classes, and more, libraries offer a wealth of resources—and that’s not even counting the books and media materials!
Mall of America:
There’s only one! Whether you love the nation’s biggest mall, or hate it, it’s certainly a sight to see! Many Somali families visit the rides to celebrate Eid with their families, and the mall is a great spot for people-watching, even when the weather is cold. Take the light rail, and you’ll even build in a great learning experience on public transit!
Check out a Museum!
On sweltering summer days, the always free Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers a cool, air-conditioned respite from the heat and fascinating exhibits from around the world. Please use some discretion though—given varying cultural backgrounds, some visitors may find some of the art inappropriate, so talk to the family before heading out. The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul is another fun stop with tons of activities for children of all ages. Even better, the Museum offers free annual memberships to families who qualify based on income. There’s more information on their website, but most newly-arrived refugees could qualify for this valuable benefit.
And of course, don’t forget the parks!
The Twin Cities are home to countless parks and lakes to enjoy year-round. Consider introducing a refugee family to one of your favorites, and one in their neighborhood. They’re a great place to relax and play, but also to meet neighbors and make new friends.