MINNEAPOLIS — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg added another state to his New Year’s resolution as he visited local communities in Minnesota on Thursday.
Early in January, Zuckerberg announced that he set a personal goal to meet people in every state by the end of the year stating, “I’ve spent significant time in many states already, so I’ll need to travel to about 30 states this year to complete this challenge.”
Zuckerberg added Minnesota to his list earlier this week as he played hockey with students in Minnetonka and broke Iftar with newly arrived refugees from Somalia.
In his initial January post, Zuckerberg stressed the need to understand the challenges and struggles different communities face.
“My work is about connecting the world and giving everyone a voice,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. “I want to personally hear more of those voices this year. It will help me lead the work at Facebook and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative so we can make the most positive impact as the world enters an important new period.”
“Tonight I had my first Iftar dinner with a group of Somali refugees in Minneapolis. As a refugee, you often don’t get to choose which country you end up in,” Zuckerberg wrote of his community visit in Minneapolis. “When I asked one man, who had spent 26 years in a refugee camp, whether America now felt like home, he gave a simple and profound answer: ‘Home is where you are free to do what you want. Yes, this feels like home.”
One of the attendees, Faisal Deri told Alpha News that Zuckerberg was a different kind of CEO. “He was passionate,” Deri said. “A lot of CEO’s talk about their goals and visions for their business. He’s passionate about what he wants to do. He meant it, you could tell from his passion.”
Former State Senator and Chief of Staff to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, David Gaither was the lead organizer of the event to bring Zuckerberg to the city. Gaither, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the International Education Center in Minneapolis, which focuses on Adult Basic Education arranged the dinner at the center.
Deri tells Alpha News that many of the individuals who attended were newcomers to the state and some did not even know his name. “They were shocked,” Deri said. “They didn’t know they would be meeting the founder of Facebook.”
“It was very informal,” Deri said of the dinner. Zuckerberg wanted hear the stories of Somali refugees, the challenges that they faced, to know more about the community.
Zuckerberg also spent time playing hockey at Impact Hockey in Minnetonka. “Many people here start skating before learning how to walk — on local ponds and makeshift rinks in their yards,” Zuckerberg wrote of the event. Joking about the encounter, he says, “Growing up, I used to strap goalie pads on my sister so I could shoot pucks in our backyard. No wonder she encouraged me to code computer games instead.”
Zuckerberg completed a mini tour of the Midwest having visited a prep school in Chicago this week and visiting a candy store in Wilton Iowa.