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Green Card Youth Voices: A Special Event Thursday evening, October 21.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

This Thursday, Oct 20, from 6:45 – 8:45 p.m., three young people, all immigrants and “Green Card Youth” in Minnesota, will share experiences and perspectives on living in the United States.

The program is free and open to the public, at Plymouth Congregational Church, (Jackman Room), 1900 Nicollet Avenue S (between LaSalle and Nicollet at Franklin Ave). Directions here.

The three students:
Fosiya Hussein (Somalia)
Luis Angel Santos Henriquez (El Salvador)
Wendy St. Felix (Haiti)

Central to the conversation will be the new book, Green Card Youth Voices.

Moderator is Tea Rozman-Clark, a 2015 Archibald Bush Fellow and founder of Green Card Voices.

This will be a very interesting program with opportunity for dialogue about a most important topic in contemporary United States conversation.

Young people are not only stewards of their own futures, but of our future, and the future of our planet.

Here is a great opportunity to hear their voices. Don’t miss this chance to interact with these young people from diverse places.

Take the time to participate this Thursday.

*

Third Thursday is a regular program of Citizens for Global Solutions MN bringing perspectives on contemporary issues. You can see more about Third Thursday and Citizens for Global Solutions MN, here.

#879 – Dick Bernard: Beginning the Future; Passing the Torch to a New Generation.

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

(click on any photo to enlarge)

A portion of the group at World Law Day, Minneapolis, May 1, 2014

A portion of the group at World Law Day, Minneapolis, May 1, 2014

It was about 6 p.m. on Thursday, about the time scheduled for people to gather at Gandhi Mahal for a meal at about 6:45, and a World Law Day program featuring a panel of young people scheduled for 7:15, speaking to elders about the following question: “How do you and the young persons you know see global relationships and interdependence at this stage in your life and what are your hopes for the future of the planet?” (Here are brief bios of the panel members and facilitator: World Law Day bios)

The panelists May 1, 2014, from left: Emily Balius, Stephen Eigenmann, Janelle Shoemake, Tea Rozman-Clark, Md Abdullah Al Miraz (speaking)

The panelists May 1, 2014, from left: Emily Balius, Stephen Eigenmann, Janelle Shoemake, Tea Rozman-Clark, Md Abdullah Al Miraz (speaking)

Ehtasham Anwar facilitated May 1 panel, and gave a very interesting history of May Day, here and around the world.

Ehtasham Anwar facilitated May 1 panel, and gave a very interesting history of May Day, here and around the world.

My RSVP list showed about 35 or so persons in my general age-range, a reasonable number for such an affair, and while I knew the event had been advertised on Facebook, I didn’t really grasp what was ahead when the first solitary young woman, college-age looking, walked across the street to our meeting room about 6 p.m.

Then a minor flood began: more than twice as many people as we anticipated, almost all of them in the high school and college age range, the room crowded by 6:30. More than two hours later, long after dinner and the panel had concluded, there was still an electric buzz in the air, the kind of feeling you get when something has really worked.

People connecting with each other.

The ones who can best tell the story of what happened May 1 are the ones who were actually in the room; and hopefully they will ‘tell’ it by sponsoring a similar experience for another group where they live. And continue the process, on, and on, and on.

One persons comment, in an e-mail when she got home: “What a great event tonight!! It was packed, including so many youth!!! All of the panelists were passionate and insightful!”. (Her son is in college, somewhere.)

There are times things come together, and Thursday evening at Gandhi Mahal seemed to be one of those times. I gave volunteer and expert facilitator Ehtasham Anwar, Fulbright/Hubert Humphrey Fellow for Law and Human Rights from Pakistan, a ride home after the program, and he asked how this event came together. I had organized it, but I couldn’t give an easy answer. It defies simple definition; on the other hand it was exceedingly simple: make it possible for the next generation to do the program; feed them; and be willing to listen actively, and learn. Here’s the program (which was modified on the run): World Law Day Prog 14001

Long and short, two days later, I would say this: truly value the opinion of young people, and publicize and do the event on their terms, and there will be a success.

This simple request is a long, long stretch for we gray-hairs, accustomed to controlling in one way or another the youngers with all the sorts of “powers”* we all too easily recognize (and fail to acknowledge)…and are reluctant to give up. But it is important to remember that the youth are the ones who are about to run things, and in fact they are comfortably occupying an alternative universe from we elders already, concerned about their own futures; using their own powerful means of communication.

A Panelist said most kids don’t even do Facebook anymore – that’s their parents medium. We Twitter…. That’s just a start.

At the same time, I noted that a Facebook event page started by one of the panel yielded more results in three days, than my old ways reservations system to old-timers had yielded in a month.

Time to catch up.

I consider a good evening one with at least one “aha” moment. May 1 there were several…. Thank you, panel and facilitator!

POSTNOTE:

The following day, Friday, I was privileged to help out at panelist Tea Rozman-Clark’s Green Card Voices booth at the annual Festival of Nations in St. Paul. There were many visitors there.

Tea Rozman-Clark in the Green Card Voices Booth at Festival of Nations May 2, 1014

Tea Rozman-Clark in the Green Card Voices Booth at Festival of Nations May 2, 1014

Today, Ehtasham Anwar, Lynn Elling and myself, plus hundreds of others bade farewell to Peacemaker, Minister, Father, Grandfather, Leader and Friend extraordinaire, Rev. Lyle T. Christianson, 87. Lyle Christianson 5-3-14001

Lyle had introduced speaker former President of the American Bar Association, David Brink, at the 2013 World Law Day one year earlier in the same room at Gandhi Mahal.

It had only been a year.

I feel the future with the young people in charge is in good hands.

Here’s the last photo I have of Lyle Christianson, with his daughter Janet Johnson, at the Nobel Peace Prize Festival March 8, 2013. The kind of man he was shows in this photo.

Janet Johnson with her Dad, Lyle Christianson, March 8, 2013, at Nobel Peace Prize Forum/Festival at Augsburg College

Janet Johnson with her Dad, Lyle Christianson, March 8, 2013, at Nobel Peace Prize Forum/Festival at Augsburg College

* – “Powers”
A tiny list:
1. The money to pay for tuition
2. Living in your parents house
3. Working as a subordinate for a boss
on, and on, and on….

#854 – Dick Bernard: GreenCardVoices.com: A Project to Document our Nation of Immigrants

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

One week from today, Wednesday, March 12, a fundraiser to celebrate the power of immigrant stories will be held at Target Field, Minneapolis. You are encouraged to attend, and make others aware of this important event as well. All details, including bios of the speakers, are here.

Your RSVP is requested.

Ours is a nation of immigrants: this is such an obvious fact that it often escapes notice. My own American roots are France (via Quebec) and Germany.

I was reminded of the extent of the immigrant population a few months ago. In the summer of 2013, I had reason to access the 1940 census of the tiny town of Sykeston ND, the place from which I graduated from high school in 1958. In that tiny town (pop. 274, in 2010, 117) in 1940, of the 161 adults 16 listed other states as birthplaces, and 11 were born in countries other than the U.S.

As late as 1940, one of six adults in the town were not native, even, to the state of North Dakota. I wrote a bit about this here, including the worksheet from the actual census here: Sykeston ND 1940 CensusRev, see page 3.

Tiny Sykeston was just one town, then.

Every reader could tell their own story: family members, ancestors, neighbors, friends….

We are a nation of immigrants.

Which leads again to Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 6-9 p.m. at Target Field in Minneapolis MN.

On that day, three immigrants to the U.S. will introduce GreenCardVoices.

All projects have their stories, and GreenCardVoices is no different. This new project already has a history.

Some years ago Laura Danielson, chair of the Immigration Department at Fredrikson and Byron, Minneapolis, decided that the stories of immigrants she knew were so interesting that they deserved retelling, and a coffee table book, Green Card Stories, was published in January, 2012.

The book did well, but over the subsequent months, Laura and others engaged with the book and its stories came to a conclusion: print books, however attractive, have their limits, particularly in these days of exploding technological capabilities to share information far beyond one home or one office coffee table, and Green Card Voices was born just a few months ago.

The project is described here, including a video (this is a video project, after all!).

The dream of the project is to video-document first generation immigrants with more than five years in the U.S. from all of the world’s countries (196 in all). These stories can then be shared broadly in various ways. It’s a very ambitious undertaking, but doable with adequate funding support from persons like ourselves.

By happenstance, I was in attendance at one of GreenCardVoices first public presentations at Hosmer Library in south Minneapolis November 2, 2013. Theirs was a fascinating program, and I am certain the program at Target Field next Wednesday will be fascinating as well. (Roy Woodstrom, librarian at Hosmer Library, is a child of an immigrant – his mother is German). The person who invited me to the presentation is a child of Swedish immigrants. And on we go.

Shepherding the project is Dr. Tea Rozman-Clark, native of Slovenia. Her bio is here.

Tea Rozman-Clark, Feb. 25, 2014

Tea Rozman-Clark, Feb. 25, 2014

RSVP for the Target Field event Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

You’re in for a treat.

#796 – Dick Bernard: Green Card Voices

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

Today was one of those days where the unexpected trumped the average and ordinary, and in a positive way.

There were a couple of items on todays agenda. They were accomplished, but they were also rans in terms of interest value.

I stopped, first, at my 92 year old friends house. He invited me to go upstairs to see what workmen there to install insulation recently found in the attic. It was an attic difficult to access, so the treasures had been there for years, and since his wife had first lost her memory, and then passed away, There was no active memory of what had been stored up there.

Among the treasures, in one of the bedrooms:

(click any photo to enlarge)

Immigrant chests found in an attic.

Immigrant chests found in an attic.

These chests, likely used for trans-ocean passage from northern Europe to the United States over 100 years ago had been packed full of assorted items. They were now empty, but the visual effect itself was pretty powerful. (They’ve been assigned to family members as keepsakes.)

The man with whom I was meeting then told me about a meeting he was invited to at two p.m. at a library in south Minneapolis. It was an event, he thought, to honor a Bangladeshi man who owns a well known Indian restaurant, Gandhi Mahal, in south Minneapolis.

I had another meeting to go to, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get to the library event, but all worked out, and at 2 p.m. I was at Hosmer Library at 36th Street in Minneapolis (just east of I-35W) for their free fall concert series: “Nikolai Kolarov: Cello Music from Bulgaria and Eastern Europe.” It wasn’t what my friend had thought would happen at 2:00, or so I thought at the beginning. Nonetheless, the concert was very good.

Hosmer has a tradition of wonderful free concerts at the library most every Saturday. Here’s Mr. Kolarov:

Nikolai Kolarov at right, Nov. 2, 2013

Nikolai Kolarov at right, Nov. 2, 2013

Here’s the upcoming printable fall schedule: Hosmer Libr Conc Fall 13001

Then came the program my friend had invited me to see.

It was presented by a brand-new twin cities based organization called Green Card Voices whose mission is to highlight the stories of immigrants to this country from everywhere. As their brochure says: “We’re all here. We all play a role. We all have a story.” As its brochure declares “41% of all fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants…the United States is home to 40 million immigrants…They represent 13% of the total population.”

As we all know, immigrants (like the folks who brought their belonging in those trunks pictured above) have always played, and still play, a very significant role in our country. We are a country of immigrants.

As advertised, Ruhel Islam of Gandhi Mahal told his story about being part of America since 1996. Niolai Kolarov told his story. As did two ladies, one from Slovenia; the other from Ethiopia.

No one said anything unexpected. Nonetheless, it was refreshing to hear the stories told by real people, and see the approximately 40 of us in the room be engaged in the conversation.

The folks of Green Card Voices have a great thing going. I hope to learn more about their work.

Ditto, to Roy Woodstrom and the folks at Hosmer Library, whose Saturday programs have become a south Minneapolis tradition.

It was a great day.

It was a good reminder of the need to engage in the conversation about immigration policy reform in Washington as well.

The Panel of Immigrants from Bangladesh, Slovenia, Ethiopia and Bulgaria November 2, 2013

The Panel of Immigrants from Bangladesh, Slovenia, Ethiopia and Bulgaria November 2, 2013

Roy Woodstrom (standing at left) librarian at Hosmer Library Minneapolis, recognizes Nikolai Kolarov following his cello performance.

Roy Woodstrom (standing at left) librarian at Hosmer Library Minneapolis, recognizes Nikolai Kolarov following his cello performance.