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Editorial: Willmar's learning about its residents

Members of the greater Willmar community came together at two meetings Thursday for the purpose of "understanding the Somali culture."

The Willmar organizers' intention was to promote a greater understanding between the growing Somali population and the rest of the Willmar.

These meetings drew more than 600 individuals. It was impressive that they attended an early morning meeting and an evening meeting on a cold January day.

The community's interest in learning about the new Somali residents is a positive step.

Our new Somali-native residents and citizens are not much different from the English, Norwegian, Swedish, German, Irish, Dane, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Vietnamese, Hmong, Mexican and other immigrants to Willmar and Minnesota of the last two centuries.

Immigrants have come to the United States of America in the 18th, 19th, 20th and the 21st centuries for three basic reasons -- the inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It is these three basic rights that have made the U.S. a worldwide attraction as the land of opportunity for nearly 240 years.

Each new wave of immigrants to U.S. has faced the challenges of learning America's multi-faceted culture and coming from a different culture or religion.

It is not an easy transition. This transition oftentimes takes a generation or two to complete.

When the first Norwegian, Swedish, Irish and German immigrants first arrived in west central Minnesota, they were fearful of and feared by the American Indians, who were also immigrants to the region at one time. The second generation often assimilated better than the first.

Willmar and west central Minnesota remain strong communities due to the vibrant collection of nationalities and religions of our many citizens.

Talking with each other and learning about each other is always the first step in understanding one another.

Good job Willmar.