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Published January 11, 2011, 12:00 AM

Immigrant voices: Two exhibits tell why people come to America

Two exhibits at Moorhead’s Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County come from different places but share a similar theme.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

If you go

  • What: Reception for the exhibits “My Journey, My Story” and “Becoming American: Teenagers and Immigration”

  • When: 4-7 tonight

  • Where: Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County at the Hjemkomst Center, 202 1st Ave. N., Moorhead.

  • Info: Free and open to the public. (218) 299-5511

Two exhibits at Moorhead’s Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County come from different places but share a similar theme.

Both “Becoming American: Teenagers and Immigration” by international photojournalist Barbara Beirne and “My Journey, My Story,” essays by area high school students, look at the immigrant experiences through the eyes, and words, of those who lived it.

“It is important to look at immigration now, as it’s such a controversial issue in the country now,” says Maureen Kelly Jonason, executive director of the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County of the timeliness of the shows. “Plus it’s a chance to hear from young people and what plans they have for their new American lives.”

The “My Journey, My Story” show is asking for more immigrant stories, with a submission deadline of Jan. 31.

At tonight’s reception for both shows, area students will read from the essays they wrote for the “My Journey, My Story” exhibit. While there are some similarities – language barriers and winter-weather shock are both hurdles in adapting to life in the region, their stories are as varied as their ancestry.

Here are excerpts from some of those essays with reflections on their past and current lives. They are unedited. Fargo photographer Martin Jonason, Kelly Jonason’s husband, took the accompanying photos.

Oleevya Yousif


I was in Twelfth grade and I should go to another city to take the final test … . Suddenly, I heard men shout, and they came to my class. They were terrorists, and they had guns with them … I was crying and praying, and they told us, “If you make any sound we will kill all of you.” … They kidnapped many girls from my class and I didn’t know why. It was the black day in my life… About the month later, my father got hurt by terrorist when he was doing his job. They told him, “If you don’t go away we will kill you and your family.”

I hope that I can go to college some day, and am thankful, because we are safe here. I really miss everything in my country, my friends, and my cousins. I hope Iraq will be safe one day so I can go to visit.

Musungit Jarso


America is a very good country that most people don’t die of hunger. As the government help people that are disable and cannot able to walk.

In America there is a lot of work that one have to work hard and earn for his or her life. In Africa they told us that the American is the land of opportunity for those who work hard, especially for the refugees like us who lost our everything in the war and left some of our family members in Africa, it gives us the chance to rebuild our life and help those who we leave behind.

My goals in this country is to work hard in my school and in everything that I do in order to succeed in my life and plan for my future ahead and later to become one of the important person in America, I will also want to become the American citizenship ... . And I will also do my best to finish my school in America, up to university. If God helps me.

Zixing He


In my country, students always study very hard, and people always stay up late in night. And when tomorrow morning, they will feel very tired and sleepy, just want to sleep. Why? Because homework, of cause … . But American students are lighter, and happier about their homework than Chinese students, I think. But the American students’ lives are more interesting, exactly.

Binod Acharya


When I started my journey I felt so unhappy because I have never had that long journey. When I start my journey I been to countries that I have never think of. It was my first time in plane. I felt scared because many plane are dangerous because they might be crashed. Now I am here I am safe … . Coming to America was my great experience.

Yajuamungu Kiromba


As long I have been alive, there was war. When war started in my country I left when I was little boy. I didn’t have parents because my parents died in war. Life in Fargo is different than the place I came from. Because everything is different school and language all that is hard. I come here in December 28 was bad winter we have flood that time and lot snow. We got hard time to go to store we have to walk ever is snowing. Some people help us to give ride somewhere and church help too. Then we started new life in Fargo everything was not easy.

Hung N. Dao


In September 6th, 2010 I went to USA. The first thing I felt is thrilling and felt like vomiting.

The school that I learn is South Campus 2. This school has a deportment look like the old castle that I read in Greek Mythology.

In general, the life in the USA is very comfortable, freedom, happiness, independent … . It is very good for me to live in this freedom’s country like as USA.

Anjali Lall

American, born to Indian parents

There are three main requirements all Indian parents must meet with regard to children. First, always focus most on education, making sure to teach your kids subjects like physics rather than how to ride a bicycle. Second, ban all partying and dating. Finally, always make sure your children are well fed, heaping third servings on their plates when necessary.

The social restrictions imposed by my parents and the taunting from my peers formed a lethal combination of fear and anger … . The solution I discovered was striking a balance … I would continue to do schoolwork, but take longer breaks to enjoy “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol.”

Although the immigration of my parents from India to America occurred nearly thirty years ago, the struggles of it continue to impact our everyday lives … . Problems with immigration will continue to plague me in the future, but I now know how to handle them.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533