The World in Fargo-Moorhead

“I didn’t go to school in Bhutan. The school was far away from where I lived, and my family moved to a different place. I was a farmer in Bhutan. I had cattle. (Now,) I work as a dishwasher. I work four days a week. On Thursday I go to school, and then I also attend citizenship class. In the evening, I go to gardening ... Everybody says that we have to get the citizenship. I have been trying hard." - Resh Karki Resh Karki arrived in the U.S. in August 2012, after spending 20 years in a refugee camp in Nepal.

“I left my village (in DRC) because it was being attacked by rebels. I left with my brother, younger sister and four kids. I walked to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia. I felt safe in Ethiopia but I had to beg for food for my kids. I went to the U.N. (in Ethiopia) every day, five days a week in 2010, 2011, 2012, until October 2013. I would knock on doors and wait for (U.N.) workers to come out for lunch. I would follow them to ask for help.” - Yvette Nyamugisha, Democratic Republic of Congo

“It was surreal to go outside whenever we wanted … we were happy to be alive” - Dejan Kekić, Bosnia 

Dejan Kekić moved to Fargo in 1996 from Sarajevo when he was six years old. Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia, had been under siege since 1992. Dejan remembers coming to Fargo and it being summer. In Sarajevo Dejan lived in a one room apartment with his father, mother, sister, aunt, uncle and two cousins.

They first fled to Rome. There Dejan and his immediate family boarded a plane to New York. Dejan’s aunt and uncle ended up on a plane bound for Australia. A total of 13,952 people were killed during the siege of Sarajevo. 5,434 of the people killed were civilians. It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern warfare, lasting four years.

"Some people unfortunately judge a book by its cover. They look at my name or my name badge at work and they automatically assume things that probably are not true of who I am. For people that don’t know me well they probably assume that I’m a refugee, that I’m a dependent on the government, that I’m probably too conservative for their liking or that I’m too serious. But in real life … my identity has been mixed with all types of things. I have some American identity in me. I have some Arab identity in me, some Muslim identity in me and since the majority of my friends here are of the Christian faith they have also played a role on who I am and what I think of the world and what defines me as a person." -Mahmoud Toumeh, Syria.
"I love to drive here. That’s something I never did at home. I’d like to be a flight attendant." - Irene Wymon, Liberia

“I go places where I’m the only black person, and I feel welcome.” - Ricot Aladin, Haiti

Ricot Aladin came to Fargo from Haiti in 2003. He moved to the U.S. for a chance at a better education. He is a singer-songwriter, and is also a worship leader at Bridgepointe Community Church in Moorhead.

The idea for The World in Fargo-Moorhead project came into being on a sunny Sunday afternoon at a picnic during Welcoming Week. Fargo natives sat interspersed with newcomers to the area to share a meal and chats assisted by cards with little conversation starters.

“I was sitting there and went ‘Oh my gosh, if there was a way to gather all of the stories here, wouldn’t that be amazing?'” Meg Lindholm, a local writer and journalist, said.

Lindholm initiated the project, which consists entirely of volunteer photographers — both professionals and amateur aficionados — who take photos and gather the stories of people from all over the world who have immigrated to Fargo.

“It isn’t supposed to be a political statement,” Lindholm noted. “I see it as more of a documentary project. It’s about the group of us, it’s about all of the people we get to photograph. They’re the stars, and their stories are wonderful.”

The project officially launched with an exhibit at the Fargo Public Library in September of 2016, and has an upcoming exhibit at the Moorhead Public Library during the entire month of February.

In addition to exhibits, The World in Fargo-Moorhead has an ongoing presence on social media with posts three times weekly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, #theworldinfm. The number of followers of the project continues to growonline.

“I really am in love with this project, which helps with getting through the parts that can be aggravating, since we are all busy people trying to take the time to make this work,” Lindholm said.

“The project is currently entirely volunteer-run,” Lindholm commented, “but we hope to do a crowdfunding campaign in the spring to hire someone to run the project, which would give it more stability.”

Photographers or individuals interested in getting involved with the group are encouraged to reach out through Facebook, or attend one of the group’s meetings at 7:00 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at the Fargo Public Library.

Thank you to The World in Fargo-Moorhead project for the included photographs and stories.

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