My heart goes out to the people of Minnesota, especially, to my poetry friends at the College of St. Catherine, fellow poets, Bob Grunst and Gabrielle Civil in the English Dept. at St. Catherine. I am also thinking of the huge Liberian community, the Eritrean and Ethiopian communities, and to the many other internationals and American friends who live in the Twin Cities.
In March of 2005, I was poet in Residence at St. Catherine for a week, invited by The ACTC (Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities) and hosted by The College of Saint Catherine in Minnesota, MN. During that first trip, I can recall riding up and down with Gabrielle or with Bob as we searched for a good Ethiopian restaurant. We drove over the bridge crossing each time from St. Paul to Minneapolis.
Then again, exactly a year ago, I stayed for nearly a week in Minneapolis, MN, on my research trip to record the war stories of Liberian refugee and immigrant women who had been traumatized by the fourteen year Liberian civil war. My research trip that took me to three US cities was concluded in Minneapolis as I spent nearly a week video recording and writing down women’s stories of rape, torture, loss, and devastation in the Liberian civil war. I was assisted on that trip by the Liberian Women’s Initiative under the leadership of Doris Parker, my dear friend and Liberian sister. I rented a car this time and stayed near the downtown area, but most of my research was done in the Park Hill area of the city where most Liberian immigrants live. I drove up and down from Minneapolis to St. Paul across that bride on days when my research required me to visit St. Paul.
On that second trip to the Twin Cities, I realized how much the people of Minnesota had done to accommodate and care for refugees and immigrants. The Liberian community of Minnesota is the largest population of Liberians in the US, and the most thriving I have seen so far. With the very dedicated Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Committee, which I am part of, and the many organizations in Minneapolis devoted to the support of immigrants from all around the world, Minneapolis is a wonderful city for the those seeking solace from war and torture, and for those looking for peace. Therefore, this is a sad day for all of us who know Minnesota. Last night, I called around to find out if some of my friends were okay, and Doris, said on the phone, “I am okay, thank-you-oh, but I’m calling around for everyone.”
copyright: Patricia Jabbeh Wesley