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Coffee circles meet to discuss immigration, cultural topics at Steam

The Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association hopes to facilitate learning and direct community members to resources.

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Nisha Kurup
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ROCHESTER – The Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association invited a small group of community members to Cafe Steam on Wednesday to discuss human trafficking in Southeast Minnesota.

It was the first of IMAA’s monthly “ Part of a Greater Whole ” series focusing on issues related to cultural diversity, immigrants and refugees.

IMAA’s goal for the "coffee circles" is to create awareness of issues, educate listeners about Rochester’s connection to the different topics, and answer questions.

IMAA Victim Services manager Nisha Kurup said IMAA gets references for victims of labor trafficking and sex trafficking, and works closely with Safe Harbor and other resource organizations in the area.

Kurup facilitated Wednesday’s conversation, along with Andrea White of Olmsted County Victim Services.


Andrea White, Olmsted County Victim Services
Contributed / IMAA

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, Kurup said, which made it an obvious topic for the series.

The dialogues are designed to be “a close-knit crew, like a coffee group,” so all attendees have the opportunity to contribute.

“It’s going to be very conversational,” Kurup said.

Some attendees may have a background in the monthly topics, Kurup said. Others may be there for a primer on what things like human trafficking and restorative justice actually mean.

Advancement manager Susan Haskamp of IMAA said she hopes listeners walk away with new perspectives and information.

Susan Haskamp, IMAA advancement manager
Contributed / IMAA

“For me, it’s about opening the dialogue and learning from each other,” Haskamp said. “These are meaningful topics – they’re hard to talk about, and they don’t come up in conversations with each other, so we wanted to create a space where we could open up and talk to each other.”

Human trafficking, for example, can happen to a person of any age, in any racial, economic, or social demographic.

“This can happen to anybody,” Kurup said. “This can happen to a child in your family, or a neighbor, or a friend. It’s very local.”


February’s topic will be Restorative Justice, with IMAA community health worker Hakima Ali, and Abe Kamara ofThree Rivers Restorative Justice. March’s topic will be about Afghan refugees.

For more information, go to .

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