Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Mari Ann Graham


Social Work


The refugee experience is one of great hardship. Refugees are removed from a distressing life which often includes starvation, physical injury or torture, incarceration, threats, and rape and are placed in a completely new world where they have to relearn how to live in a place where the language, food, work, and interactions are completely different than what they know. This remains true for the Karen population from Burma. Despite these challenges, refugees find sources of resilience in order to persevere through their hardships. The purpose of this research project was to describe the sources of resilience during and after resettlement to the U.S. for Karen refugees in the Saint Paul, MN area. A qualitative research method was used for the project, in which, participants were interviewed twice; the first interview focusing on their personal experience of resettlement and the second interview focusing on their perception of other Karen refugees’ experiences. Participants included three Karen women who work as interpreters in social service agencies in the Saint Paul area. The themes that emerged from the study included resettlement issues, supportive services, hope, importance of community, and personal qualities. The findings of this research project suggest that social workers should aim to minimize challenges that refugees face upon resettlement and maximize sources of resilience.

Included in

Social Work Commons