The Huffington Post recently visited 25 cities across the United States their Listen to America bus tour. The goal of the tour: HuffPost talked to more than 1,700 people all over the United States discussing what it really means to be American today. This ranged from the stories of people’s lives, their communities and local issues including racism, lack of education funding, crime and access to health care.
Part of this tour was spent in Des Moines, Iowa. Based on samples of the many interviews collected in Des Moines, linguists conducted a statistical analysis to identify the top words that were unique to the conversations held in there and the context in which they appeared.
The results in Des Moines found that the top word mentioned in conversation was, “refugees”.
“In 1975, Gov. Robert Ray established a task force to resettle 1,200 Tai Dam refugees in Iowa after they were displaced by the Vietnam War. The state then welcomed Eastern Europeans in the late 1980s and Bosnians in the 1990s. At present, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Des Moines currently resettles between 650 and 700 refugees each year.”
A local Iowan named San said, “It’s a very welcoming place. Certainly when I came in the early 90s, maybe people here are not as cosmopolitan or know as much about people from other countries. But they are always welcoming. Actually, Iowa has a wonderful tradition of being welcoming to refugees and to people from really all over the world. Even though it’s a relatively white community. But that’s changing quite a bit.”
Every day, USCRI works hard to make sure that their new homes are just that, welcoming.
To read more about the Huffington Post’s bus tour and their time in Des Moines, see the full article here.