“The World in Fargo-Moorhead” went on display Monday at the Fargo Public Library. The exhibit celebrates and raises awareness about diversity in the community by pairing portraits of immigrants living in the F-M area with the unique story each person tells.
Ibtissem Belmihoub, an international student at North Dakota State from Algeria, helped direct the exhibit. Her story is also featured.
“We do a portrait and a story,” Belmihoub said. “Last year, and this year, we chose about 17 high resolution pictures and good stories to share with the community.”
Belmihoub believes it is important to bring our community together and is happy to be a part of this exhibit. “I love the fact that there is a lot of effort to get to a place where people feel like this is at least their second home,” she said. “Or that people know each other. Different communities know each other and know each other’s stories enough to feel like they share this space and are comfortable sharing this space and this community.”
The portraits consist of head shots of individuals. Some even showcase personal involvement in the community.
The stories range from intimate immigration experiences to the shock a change in culture and lifestyle bring.
One story highlights the challenges immigrants face in the area. “Everything (here) is challenging from the weather to the food to the culture,” Hamida Dakane’s, a Muslim woman from Kenya, story reads. “I’ve been called names and questioned and told to go back to where I come from.”
Other stories focus on the positives and hopefulness that comes with immigration. “Here, in America, human rights are not taken away … Here, there’s so much opportunity, there, and you don’t even know where you can live,” Agatha Ngenzirabona’s story reads.
Local photographers initiated the exhibit. “The first time the founders thought, ‘Let’s create an exhibit,’ was in collaboration with Welcoming Week,” Belhimhoub said. “’What would be a good way for (immigrants) to feel visible in this community?’”
The exhibit is part of a bigger movement called Welcoming Week. “Welcoming Week is a national effort to welcome new immigrants and refugees,” Blehmihoub said. “Different non-profits and businesses in the area do events under the umbrella of Welcoming Week.”
Some of these events include an international potluck at the Plains Art Museum Sept. 14, Green Card Voices readings at the NDSU Library Sept. 19 and an International Day of Peace Sept. 24.
“The World in Fargo-Moorhead” is a traveling exhibit and will be on display in the library until the end of September, Belmihoub said. In previous years, organizations with diversity events also showcased at the exhibit.
Despite the controversy surrounding immigration, Belmihoub believes that the effort to make immigrants feel welcome is there and, hopefully, the results will soon follow. “I’m mostly at NDSU, so I’ve been out in the community for just a little bit of time to feel that atmosphere,” Belhmihoub said. “I think there is a lot of effort to make (immigrants) feel included. It’s not there yet.”