KOM Services Spotlight: Karen Culture Presentations

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the Karen community in Minnesota? As one of the fastest growing refugee-experienced populations in Minnesota, the greater Twin Cities community has become more and more curious about the Karen people. Who are they? Where do they come from? What is their culture like? And why did they come to Minnesota, of all places?

To answer these questions and raise awareness of the Karen community in Minnesota, KOM offers regular Karen Culture Presentations. Initially developed in 2017 by KOM staff Eh Tah Khu and Rebekah Hanson, the presentations run just over an hour in length.

KOM has given its presentations to a wide variety of audiences, from government bodies to church groups to college classes, along with the general public presentations KOM gives approximately every other month. The most recent iteration of KOM’s Karen Culture Presentation was given to an anthropology class at Inver Hills Community College on the 14th of May.

Presentations begin with a condensed chronology of the Karen people in modern times, beginning with the British occupation of Burma and ending with the ongoing campaign waged by the Burmese military against the Karen people.

This leads to discussion of Karen refugee camps along the Thai border, and how many Karen were able to come to the United States and ultimately Minnesota, largely through our state’s vigorous ecosystem of nongovernment organizations focused on immigrant and refugee services.

The presentation concludes by talking about various facets of Karen traditional culture, including food, clothing, family dynamics, communication styles, religion, and language. The audience is then invited to ask any remaining questions.

If you or your organization is interested in attending one of our presentations, contact KOM Volunteer Coordinator Suzanne Olive!

If you’d like to have KOM come to your place of work, or another group you are a part of, fill out our large group presentation request form.

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