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F-M celebrates the cultural diversity of its residents

Hjemkomst Center hosts Pangea: Cultivate our Cultures to raise awareness about the variety of cultures upheld and celebrated in the area

Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the Pangea: Cultivate Our Cultures event held at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead. The event was free, open to the public and featured a variety of performances, presentations and cuisines from around the world.

Jeff Swenson explained the Pangea event strives to shed light on cultures outside of the predominant German/Scandinavian found in the Fargo Moorhead area, and instead shift its focus on people from other nationalities or backgrounds who also live in the Fargo – Moorhead community.

Swenson, the Events and Exhibits Coordinator for the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County, graduated from MSUM with a history degree.

“The vast majority of people in the area are your Scandinavian immigrants, your German immigrants, generally coming over in the 1880s up through the turn of the century,” Swenson said. But we’re trying to focus more on the newest Americans–the recent refugee groups, resettlement groups, things like that.”

The Hjemkomst center was filled with tables, booths and billboard representing various countries. One of the most popular areas was the Pakistan booth where young women were painting henna tattoos on people’s hands and faces.

One of the henna artists, Anam Jawad explained the origin of the henna tattoo – a Pakistani tradition which began in the 18th and 19th centuries. Jawad said the intricate designs are a popular form of adornment that people often wear for weddings, birthdays or just about any other joyous occasion.

Other booths gained quite a bit of traffic throughout the event, such as the Concordia German club’s booth, where members sold German adventskalenders, or as they are referred to in English, advent calendars.

Taylor Huwe, the President of Concordia’s German club said that some of the people who visited the booth were of German descent.

“It’s really cool to connect with other people that are stopping by because there is a lot of neat heritage and lineage in families,” Huwe said. “There are a lot of ties to Germany when you’re talking with people.”

According to Huwe, people who recognized some of the German memorabilia, such as the German Christmas Pyramid, called a weihnachtspyramide.

In addition to a plethora of booths featuring countries and cultures from around the globe, the event also had a main stage where performances ranged from Polish dancers to Scottish bagpipers.

Sarah Altenburg, an alumnus of Concordia (‘87) said that she enjoyed the music from the Four Winds ensemble, a group of musicians who shared their music along with stories about their Métis/Mitchif history.

The event boasted a variety of international cuisines such as dishes from Denmark, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Kurdistan and many others.

Annalise Bittner shared that one of her personal favorites was the Haitian chicken creole.

Bittner, an employee at Head Start child care services said that she appreciated the Pangea event because it was an opportunity to learn more about the different cultures of the children she teaches.

According to Bittner, the event was very much a celebratory space where individuals from from diverse cultures and nationalities could enjoy a day to celebrate who they are.

Likewise, Swenson said that the primary goal of Pangea is to bring together people of diversity under one roof.

“This is a chance to… celebrate humanity,” Swenson said.

Altenburg appreciated the Pangea event because it provided an opportunity to see a mixture of cultures, and that mixing cultures is something she believes can be a challenging thing to do in today’s world.

“It broadens our appreciation and understanding of the multi-cultural scene here in the F-M area,”  Altenburg said.

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