Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Michael C. Porter, Ed. D; Eleni Roulis, Ph. D; Laurie Anderson Sathe, Ed. D; Deborah S. DeMeester, Ed.D.


An increasing number of global migrants are refugees, who have fled religious, racial, ethnic or other political persecution. As these refugee populations have grown, governmental and nonprofit organizations have emerged to help the resettlement experience. The reality of the American experience for the newly resettled refugee does not always match the expectations of what the country has to offer, and these organizations do not always take into consideration the past history of the refugee.

This study explores the dialectical tensions/conflicts faced by Ethiopian Somali refugees in communicating with the organizations designed to make their resettlement successful. The methodology used includes phenomenology techniques which expose the assumptions, feelings, and subjectivities of the author and participants. At the same time, United States and United Nation policies are reviewed within the context of the experiences and stories of resettled refugees. In addition, this dissertation explores the construction of ethnic identity in the first generation of Ethiopian Somali refugee now living in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, with the aim of showing the intricacy of global events (civil wars in the homeland and war on terror in the host society) and local contexts (meaning-making occurring during the interviews). In-depth interviews conducted with ten men were treated as a series of stories in order to emphasize the importance of personal meaning-making. With awareness that “multiple identities” can denote various subjectivities, the thesis proposed research that theorizes about the constant shift of identities, the interplay between ascribed and performed ethnicity, as well as the role of societal and historical adjustment that influence the actors of these identities. The Ethiopian Somali refugees participated in semistructured interviews about their experiences with adaptation and integration in America. Four dialectical tensions/conflicts emerged from participants’ stories about their communication in their life experiences: (a) persecution and discrimination; (b) trauma in the journey of fleeing their homeland; (c) multiple identities in the refugee camps; and d) integration and adjustment in American society.


Ethiopian Somali Refugees, Persecution and Discrimination, Trauma in the Journey of Fleeing their Homeland, Multiple Identities in the Refugee Camps, Integration and Adjustment in American society

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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