I have to say, I really love living in Minnesota. I was born and raised here, yet I feel like the state always holds something fun and new for me to discover. One of my favorite things about Minnesota is its diversity. We have the highest population of Somali people outside of Africa. We have the country’s second-highest population of Hmong. I went to a big suburban high school where more than thirty different languages were spoken, and my current suburb alone is home to several Halal markets, a Thai grocer, a Somali restaurant, Tibetan and Lebanese takeout places, and a to-die-for Indian eatery just across the street from me.
Given that diversity is such a big part of life in Minnesota, I was thrilled to see diversity represented in our recently-released Our Great States book called What’s Great about Minnesota? (cover pictured). In what is perhaps my favorite spread in the book, we highlight the Karmel Square Somali Mall. This mall is a great place to get a taste of Somali culture—and since it so closely resembles an east African market, it also makes a fantastic urban getaway.
In an afternoon perusing the mall, you may spot halls lined with beautiful scarves or smell aromatic rice intermingled with freshly brewed sweet tea. And you’re sure to hear the sounds of African languages being spoken, perhaps interspersed with a soccer game playing on the TV in the coffee shop. The busy mall slows down only when the Muslim call to prayer comes over the loudspeaker. After prayer time, the bustling shoppers pick up right where they left off.
Check out What’s Great about Minnesota? to read more about the Karmel Square Somali Mall, as well as to see photos of our great state and its diverse residents at places like the Minnesota State Fair and the Mall of America. I hope you come away appreciating Minnesota and all it has to offer, just like I do!