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The World In Fargo-Moorhead: ‘My Family Was A Target’

 

Photos courtesy of The World in Fargo-Moorhead

The World in Fargo-Moorhead is a community project that shows the immense diversity of foreign-born residents now living in the Red River Valley—one portrait and story at a time. Each month, FargoMonthly.com features individuals photographed and interviewed by the participants in The World in Fargo-Moorhead.

You can find more information about The World in Fargo-Moorhead project at facebook.com/theworldInfm, twitter.com/theworldinfm and instagram.com/theworldinfm.

Anyone interested in participating in the project can email theworldinfm@gmail.com or send a message on the project’s Facebook page. Newcomers are welcome to attend the project’s monthly meetings every third Wednesday of the month from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Fercho conference room at the Fargo Public Library, 102 N 3rd St., Fargo.

The World In Fargo-Moorhead is hosting a gallery talk Sunday, Sept. 17 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Fargo Public Library in celebration of 2017 Welcoming Week. During the event, photographers and participants will discuss their experiences creating the stories and the impact of the project on the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Alexander Wagner, Germany

Alexander Wagner | Germany

Photo by Ann Arbor Miller, Interview by Birgit Pruess | @theworldinfm

“I came to the United States in 2002. Before we moved to Fargo, I lived with my wife (whom I met in England and who is originally from Missouri) in Edinburgh, Scotland. We were not sure we want to raise kids in a country where neither of us knew the intricacies of healthcare, school education, and many other practical details of how to raise kids. So we decided to look for opportunities to either move to Germany or the United States where at least one of us would have a rough idea of how things are supposed to work.

“I received an offer from the Physics Department at NDSU. Despite the fact that my wife’s first reaction was “Fargo? You are kidding, right?” She was ready enough to return to the States. Living here, I now have weird cravings for all things German — like German rye bread. So I learned to love making my own rye bread about three times a week.

“Psychologically, it can be quite difficult to be a part of two cultures. It is hard to express this, but there are strange cognitive disconnects. I have observed my persona change, based on the cultural context, and that can be discomforting because one likes to think of themselves as a fixed entity. Much seems initially familiar, but one realizes quickly that this familiarity is only apparent. What really drew me to Fargo is that it is much less crowded here than Germany, giving one the feeling of space. And I have found people around here to be very friendly.”

Brigitte Bisimwa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Brigitte Bisimwa | Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo by Ann Arbor Miller | @theworldinfm

“I’m the mother of five children. I’m from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). My family was a target because of political problems. We ended up in Kenya in a refugee camp. We stayed there for 10 years. You don’t trust others in the camp. No one knows each other. You have a limit on your personal freedom.

“My oldest son finished high school in Kenya. Once you finish high school, there is no hope. He wanted to go to college, but there was no possibility for higher education. He met a good Samaritan in the parking lot of the camp hospital. He and his family made a big change in our lives. He facilitated the resettlement process for us. We were lucky. We came to Fargo in early 2009. All of my kids have graduated from high school. The oldest has a master’s degree and the others are attending college. I’m proud of my children and their accomplishments. I work as a CNA and I’m thinking about going to school for social work. I became a U.S. citizen in June 2016 and voted for the first time in my life.”

Carlos Maldonado, Guatamala, Priyanka Deka

Carlos Maldonado | Guatemala

Photo by Priyanka Deka | @theworldinfm

“When I came to Fargo, the first impression was that the place is really peaceful. I like to use my bike during summer. The hard part is winter, but if I will stay more time, I will learn to skate. Also, I like to go to downtown and take some beer with friends and make a lot of conversation.”

Carlos is a graduate student in the department of plant sciences at NDSU.

Bharat Verma / New Delhi, India

Bharat Verma | New Delhi, India

Photo by Beth Bradley | @theworldinfm

“When I arrived at the New York airport, I was talking to a stranger. He asked me where I was going and I told him Fargo, ND. He asked me ‘Does anyone live there?’ I said shut up, I will be living there for two years.

“I came here December 28, 2012, to finish my degree in electrical engineering. But now I work in IT as a support systems engineer at Microsoft. I decided to attend NDSU because there was a 50 percent scholarship.

“At first, Fargo seemed too peaceful and quiet. In New Delhi, there are 23 million people. Sometimes you don’t think you are moving when you are walking because there are too many people around you. In Fargo, there weren’t enough people to talk to when I first came here. It felt lonely. That was a big culture shock to me.

“I feel very comfortable now because when I realized that I am not the only one who is alone here it pushed me to move and open up. And now I have a lot of friends. I prefer Fargo now because it is very peaceful.

“I’m vegetarian. I wasn’t sure what I should eat here. In India, McDonald’s is very fancy and has lots of vegetarian options including a ‘McPotato.’ In a lot of restaurants here, there is only one vegetarian option.

“The most interesting thing was seeing snow on flat, plain ground. In India, there is only snow in the mountains. One time there was a blizzard here. I walked to Pizza Hut with a friend. It was normally a 10-minute walk but it took 1 1⁄2 hours walking in the blizzard. We got there and it was closed. Never walk in a blizzard. Lesson learned.”

Serap Vatansever, Turkey

Serap Vatansever | Turkey

Photo by Mohsen Tahmasebi | @theworldinfm

“I came to Fargo in August in 2016 to pursue a Ph.D. in Cereal Science Graduate Program. I feel there are not many differences between Fargo and my hometown in Turkey. I can say a huge difference for me is that people speak English here and my family and friends are not here with me as well.

“Fargo is very quiet, safe and peaceful, but to be honest, we have better food in Turkey. I have not felt that I am a foreigner in Fargo. Only when I talk to people, they recognize I am not an American, and then, they are asking where I am coming from and what my background is.

“I am a very curious person to learn new things, particularly about history and culture as well as my major. When I have friends from different countries, I usually try to read about their culture and historical things. Next time when I meet them, I would love to ask questions. That is because I really like people asking questions about my culture and country as well. For example, my roommate and I have interestingly many cultural similarities.”

About The World in Fargo-Moorhead

The World in Fargo-Moorhead shows the immense diversity of foreign-born residents now living in the Red River Valley—one portrait and story at a time. Modeled after Humans of New York, the project features portraits and interviews of immigrants, refugees, students and/or workers on temporary visas who live in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The World in Fargo-Moorhead officially launched in September 2016 as an exhibit for Welcoming Week at the Main Public Library in downtown Fargo. It was created as a collaborative effort among photo enthusiasts to raise awareness about the range of cultures that define our area.

DONATE TO THE WORLD IN FARGO-MOORHEAD’S FUNDRAISER TODAY

The money raised from your generous contribution will fund the following:

  • Photo prints, frames and text panels for our upcoming exhibit
  • Stipends for exhibit coordinators and our exhibit curator
  • Promotional materials including flyers, postcards and posters
  • Social media advertising
  • Miscellaneous materials needed to fund the project for the coming year. Help us keep The World in Fargo-Moorhead going. Your contribution is 100 % tax deductible. Any amount is appreciated.

* The fiscal sponsor for this fundraising effort is The Human Family, a 501c3 organization. So, your donation is tax deductible.

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