Somali Migration to the United States: Understanding Adaptation Through Digital Stories

Moin Syed, Jillian Fish, Jill Hicks, Ummul Kiram Kathawalla, Erika Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to further understand the psychological process of migration through an interdisciplinary (psychology, history, and digital humanities) collaboration that examines the experiences of Somali refugees in the United States. Method: The sample consisted of 26 Somali American emerging adult and older adult refugees who created digital stories as part of the Immigrant Stories Project ( Stories were analyzed through an examination of narrative structure and content. Results: The structure of the authors’ stories was primarily progressive or stable, with very few regressive stories. Although the distribution of these story structures did not differ for emerging adults and older adults, there were important variations in content. Emerging adults’ stories reflected a struggle to find self-continuity across time and place, whereas older adults’ stories indicated attempts to find meaning and optimally adapt to their current situations. Moreover, none of the stories took on a redemptive structure, a type of story that has been identified as culturally prevalent in U.S. culture but seldom examined across diverse populations. Conclusions: The findings highlight the varieties of paths toward successful immigration and the importance of taking a collaborative, participatory approach to understanding migration experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-369
Number of pages9
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Immigrant Stories Project is supported by the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded to Erika Lee, and a University of Minnesota Grand Challenges Exploratory Research Grant awarded to ErikaLee and Moin Syed. The full Immigrant Stories collection is availableonline ( No aspects of this study werepreregistered

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association


  • Digital stories
  • Immigration
  • Redemption
  • Refugee
  • Somalia
  • Refugees/psychology
  • Narration
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Aged
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Emigration and Immigration

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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