Photo exhibit sheds light on cultural clashes between immigrant parents and their American children

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost


The teenage experience can be an emotional roller coaster for many young people navigating through complex life choices as they transition to adulthood and establish an identity.

But for many American-born teens with immigrant parents, the challenges are even more pronounced in their day-to-day experiences, as their parents tend to reinforce lifestyle and religious practices that are foreign to their children.

That pressure often invites a cultural clash between parents and their teens — many of them feeling torn between two very different worlds: a conservative Muslim community and a secular American society.

For years, emerging Somali-American visual storytellers Muna Malik and Khadija Charif have been taking notes on how their friends have dealt with identity issues and the struggle of living at home in one culture, while attending school in a completely different culture.

The pair eventually turned their notes into two photography projects exploring one story: the experience of Minnesota teenagers and their struggle to balance different cultures. The joint exhibition will open Wednesday afternoon at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Malik, born in Yemen and raised in Minneapolis, created “Behind Both Fences,” a project featuring four Somali-American and Sudanese teens who came of age in the Twin Cities.

Charif’s “Jaded Youth” exhibit features four local Somali-American and Ethiopian college students to shed light — as Charif noted — on “the beauty of what it means to be an immigrant, although it’s jaded and it’s hard trying to balance both our cultural life with our life here.”

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.


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