Photos courtesy of Sean Coffman and 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. 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 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and at Human-Family.org/The-World-In-Fargo-Moorhead/. You can also view more videos on their YouTube channel.
Anyone interested in participating in the project can email firstname.lastname@example.org 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 7-8 p.m. in the Fercho conference room at the Fargo Public Library, 102 N. 3rd St., Fargo.
Judith Robinson | Australia
Interview by Carlyne Murray and Sarah Dixon-Hackey
“I am from Melbourne, Australia. I don’t have anything interesting to say about myself, but I want people to know that I am incredibly grateful to MSUM for providing me with an incredible campus and program to complete my undergrad degree at. It has become a second home and has made being away from home that much more comfortable.
It’s different because I am away from family. I had to learn very quickly to depend on myself and not my family for support and help with everyday things. America is fairly similar to Australia in terms of the social aspect. The main difference would be the weather; we don’t get snow or cold temperatures like Moorhead does, so that took some getting used to when I first came here as a freshman.
Being away from family is probably the hardest thing I have had to deal with. My family and I are incredibly close, and they are always the first people I go to for help or advice. And while we still talk every day on the phone, it’s hard for me to be away from them, in both good and bad situations, when they are on the other side of the world. Due to time zones, sometimes they are asleep when I need to talk to them the most. It has helped me develop into a stronger person and allowed me to rely on myself more, but it was a big challenge I faced, particularly in my freshman year.
Because our cultures are fairly similar, I didn’t have a lot to really learn in terms of doing things the American way. It sounds incredibly cliché, but the ‘Minnesota nice’ saying that everyone talks about is true. I have learned to always face situations with kindness, regardless of who you are talking to or what situation you are in.
Based on my experience, I would encourage anyone to travel the world and move away from home and out of your comfort zone before settling down. Stepping out of your comfort zone can teach you so much about yourself. It’s hard and scary, but I can promise anyone it will be the most rewarding, life-changing thing you will do.”
Hilma | Nigeria
Interview by Ibrahim Rabiu
I sat down with a lovely lady named Hilma. Hilma was happy to answer any of my questions that I had for my business project. Hilma is from Kano, which is the north side of Nigeria with a population of over 20 million people. I am from Nigeria, but from the southern part of Nigeria with a lesser population.
What she wants people to know about her is that is she wants to become a doctor. She is hardworking, dedicated and super social. She added that she wants to become a doctor to help people that are in need and try and find a cure for cancer. She said that there are a few differences between here and Nigeria. The thing that really stood out to her was the religion. Back in Nigeria, there is a lot of Islam being practiced, whereas as in Fargo-Moorhead, there isn’t as much.
She said the biggest challenge she had was culture shock. She gave a few examples as well, like eating with both the right and left hands. Where she comes from, you can only eat with your right because your left hand is not pure. Another example is people eating pork. Where she is from, pork is forbidden to eat, sell or even breed. As a woman, she became independent very young, whereas in Nigeria she must wait until she gets married to become independent. She learned how to speak English more frequently than she would back in Nigeria.
Quan Le | Vietnam
Interview by Alex Smedshammer
“I have family here and have been here for five years, so I think of myself as a seasonal student. I graduated from Big Lake High School and am an accounting and finance major.
The school environment is very different because back in Vietnam, every school had uniforms. The books were different because they have smaller book sizes with just as much information. We start school at 6:45 in the morning and get out of class by 12 pm or so. We also usually have school on Saturdays, but those are for a few hours or less.
Back in Ho Chi Minh City, the weather ranged from hot to cool and was always humid but was never cold like here. And in Vietnam, the only people who drove cars were the richer people and everyone else just got around by foot, bike or motorcycle. It was also a new experience applying for a job when I turned 16. In Vietnam, most kids don’t get their first job until they are 18 or an adult.
In my culture, the Lunar New Year is the biggest celebration we have. It could be compared to the size of our Christmas celebrations. The first day of Lunar New Year is usually at the end of January or the beginning of February. We have red envelopes with décorations on them based on the animal for the lunar new year. Inside of the envelopes is a varying range of money known as ‘lucky money.’ These envelopes are exchanged within the family.
I would like to have every student try their best to include international students and be mindful of what you say around them, because they could not understand a certain way you used a word and just be lost or offended. Maybe even befriend an international student.”
Fanny Roncal Ramirez | Peru
Interview by Sean Coffman
Following an opportunity to teach English, Dr. Fanny Roncal Ramirez moved from Peru to the United States with her family in 2001. Currently a professor at Concordia College, Dr. Ramirez encourages her students to intentionally seek out cross-cultural experiences.
“Simple things such as colors are different from culture to culture. In English we know red, blue, yellow, purple and so on. In Spanish, we have a few more words for colors, a little bit more. Then a student shared that in an African culture they have 10 different colors for the sea, depending on the season and depending on the day. So a topic as simple as colors could be as rich, culturally speaking, as an important topic like gender issues. It’s fascinating to see how we can see a topic from a different perspective and different cultures, to see how different we are, and to appreciate that difference. I think that is just wonderful.”
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 is facilitated by the Human Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting human rights and social justice through film and art. Learn more about the Human Family at Human-Family.org. The World in Fargo-Moorhead was created as a collaborative effort among photo enthusiasts to raise awareness about the range of cultures that define our area. Watch their introduction video to learn more.
The money raised from your generous contribution will fund the following:
- Photo prints, frames and text panels for their upcoming exhibit
- Stipends for exhibit coordinators and their exhibit curator
- Promotional materials including flyers, postcards and posters
- Social media advertising
- Miscellaneous materials needed to fund the project for the coming year. Help them 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.