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Ann Nguyen Returns and Re-Discovers Fargo

Happy Holidays!

This month, I got the opportunity to visit with Ms. Ann Nguyen who reflected on coming back home to Fargo:

“I was born in Vietnam, raised in north Fargo, and relocated to Washington, D.C., in 2005. My adult life centered around living in D.C., where I experienced many milestones. These included graduating from GMU, advancing in my management consulting career, marrying my husband at the Jefferson Memorial, buying a city center home, and embracing motherhood.

Fifteen years of the East Coast lifestyle kept me constantly in motion, pursuing one goal after another with little time to spare. Returning to Fargo, I found myself with more free time than I was used to. Initially, it felt odd, as if I needed to fill the time constantly or risk feeling unproductive. However, I’ve learned to cherish downtime.

Professionally, I’m a business consultant helping organizations solve complex problems, optimize business processes, and implement technology solutions. Beyond work, I enjoy supporting g social initiatives in our community.

While I miss D.C., Fargo’s slower pace enriches the quality time I spend with my family. This is my second time living in Fargo, and I hope to rediscover this Midwest city with thoughtful intentions.”

Until we meet again:

Umwaka Mushya Muhire wa 2024!

Cyusa

Where do you call home?

My concept of “home” has evolved over time. It was once solely tied to my physical location. I recall my early days in D.C., where people often expressed surprise at meeting someone from Fargo and would inevitably ask if I planned to return. Consistently, my response was “never.” However, as the saying goes, “never say never,” and in 2021, I returned to Fargo unexpectedly

Through extensive international travel, my perspective of “home” shifted beyond geography. It’s now an emotional connection, encompassing a sense of community, belonging, and inclusivity. Returning to Fargo, I’m readjusting to calling it home again. This time, it’s not just about the location; it’s about authentic connections.

Tell me about your journey and lessons learned in Washington, D.C., before coming back to Fargo.

My initial move to D.C. had me quickly adapting to its fast-paced life, long commutes, and urban isolation. I learned the value of decision-making, timing, commitment, and execution. Over 15 years, I established a successful career in management consulting that exceeded my expectations. I owe much of my success to colleagues and mentors who were like a guiding light on my journey. They recognized my potential and valued my talent, work ethic, and holistic identity. Here, I learned the value of connections, grit, and keeping an open mind. Overall, the D.C. experience deepened my social consciousness and enriched my perspectives, allowing me to appreciate global diversity in personal, public, and professional settings.

However, transitioning back to Fargo also taught me a great lesson in balancing authenticity and professionalism, discerning and ignoring distractions, and prioritizing commitments that hold true value. Fargo is a marked contrast to the city life and culture I embraced in D.C.

Can you talk about your experiences with all the new Fargo features?

Although raised in Fargo, I’m a newcomer in terms of engaging with and discovering the nuances of our community. Recollecting my teenage memories, I was preoccupied with enduring our ‘charming’ winters. Having lived in D.C. and traveled globally, I’ve been spoiled with diverse culinary options. So, it’s delightful to see Fargo’s growing food scene and vibrant farmers’ markets.

In early 2023, I ventured into the business ecosystem. As a newcomer, it was intimidating to participate—everyone seemed to have their established circles— but self-motivation pushed me to continue. However, one introduction with someone whose authenticity and welcoming nature gave me a sense of acceptance in the community, emphasizing the value of my presence. As I continue navigating the business community, I stand as evidence that a single encounter can be transformative, encouraging, and substantially enrich the path initially set for a newcomer.

I miss D.C.’s all-inclusive experience and am hopeful in continuing to discover how Fargo has and continues to grow. Thus far, my experience returning to Fargo has provided me with fresh insights into the city I once thought I knew.

What is the story of your passion for giving back to the Fargo-Moorhead community?

As refugees, my family was matched with a family sponsor affiliated with Lutheran Social Services (LSS), which served as our connection to Fargo during our initial arrival. When I look back, our sponsor’s support was instrumental in my family’s integration into new life landlocked here in the middle of a then foreign country. Fast forward, after my return to Fargo, I intended to connect with LSS for opportunities only to learn they no longer have a local presence

In seeking other ways to get involved in the community, I’ve crossed paths with incredible community builders, and I’m inspired to support their efforts. With that, I’ve enjoyed supporting various engagements presented by community-building organizations, exploring minorityowned businesses, and volunteering at cultural events, such as the annual Asian Night Market in May.

I hold a sense of pride for Fargo. There are opportunities to connect our expanding communities, celebrate its vibrancy, and encourage multiple dimensions of diversity. When opportunities are harnessed and pursued, collectively with a culture of inclusivity, Fargo can create an allure that overshadows its geographic and climatic challenges in attracting newcomers to join this flourishing community.

Why should and how can people learn about outside the Midwest?

I strongly advocate the idea of interacting with people and environments beyond one’s immediate circle. This can be achieved through meaningful conversations locally and immersive travel experiences, with humble intentions to seek understanding. The key is to be open-minded, apply self-awareness, and self-reflection in the act.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde

Intellectual curiosity leads to a deeper appreciation for learning and a willingness to explore diverse perspectives. Though comfort is our inclination, engaging in conversations beyond the familiar cultivates a richer diverse perspective, promotes personal development, and equips one with valuable skills for navigating our increasingly interconnected and globalized world. Traveling also deepens our comprehension of the world and our place in it.

What is one thing the FM area could benefit from which you liked in other cities you lived in?

Just one? Simple, Trader Joe’s!

Joking aside (but not really), the dynamic D.C. metro area is a melting pot full of economic activities, cultural diversity, historical significance, and social interactions offering abundant options to suit any lifestyle. One significant way I met new friends was participating in social sports where players of all levels are welcome. This allowed me to interact with people from all backgrounds and be part of a community year-round. Locally, social sports can be an opportunity for new and established community members to build friendships and be actively engaged year-round.

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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