Shrinking World

By Carmen Rath-Wald, Logan County Extension Agent

Rath-Wald, Carmen. "Shrinking World." Napoleon Homestead, 6 January 2012, 2.

Our daughter returned from Brazil (this is the gringa spelling since it is spelled Brasil in Portuguese) last week. One of our foreign exchange daughters, Fernanda, played hostess to Whitney from December 16th through the 2nd of January. It was an amazing adventure, but I know she’s glad to be back home almost as much so as we are to have her back in the state.

We will most likely see Fernanda in August/September when she travels to the states to attend a conference in San Diego. Maybe another former exchange daughter, Julie, will also join us. Julie who wanted to be a dentist when she came here for her junior year of high school is now an ER doc, and Fernanda who wanted to be a fashion designer is an administrative assistant for a public relations firm.

I never imagined one of my children visiting Brazil when we hosted over four consecutive years. I was happy for the opportunity to share our culture with the visiting girls, but never expected their families and ours to be connected for many years to come. It is happily serendipitous.

One of the gifts that Whitney took to the families in Brazil was macaroni and cheese, and from the sounds of it, it was heartily received. I was happy that we could offer a gift of food that was grown locally. Whitney’s favorite foods while in Brazil were locally grown fruits that we do not have here, proving that for her at least the locally grown seasonal choices worked well.

In February Michael Miller from the GRHC in Fargo and Bob Dambach, director of television, Prairie Public Broadcasting in Fargo, will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina, returning on February 28th. They will visit many settlements and families in Buenos Aires, to the north in the Province of Entre Rios where the Volga Germans immigrated.

They will also visit the Province of Coronel Suarez, south of Buenes Aires, where Black Sea and Volga Germans settled. In Curitiba and southern Brazil, where they will meet and film settlements and families of Volhynian German, Bessarabian German, Mennonite German and Volga German ancestry. They hope to meet up with Fernanda at that time since she has provided some information and tips for travel to her country.

Plans are to complete the final documentary filming in South America in 2013. This new documentary is part of the award-winning Germans from Russia documentary series of Prairie Public Broadcasting –

Fernanda speaks her mother’s native Japanese, her father’s native Portuguese, Italian and English. Her interest in our Germans from Russia culture will no doubt be piqued once again by her visitors from North Dakota. Both Miller and Dambach can provide her a wealth of background and history, and she back to them.

The GRHC received national honors as the recipient from the American Association of State and Local History for the 2011 Award of Merit and the WOW Award for exceptional work in preserving and sharing the culture of the Germans from Russia on the Northern Plains. The nomination for these awards was made by the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND) which has been a longtime partner with various projects of the GRHC. The awards were presented to the GRHC by Merlan Paaverud, Director of the SHSND on December 2 at Bismarck. The SHSND accepted the awards in Richmond, Va. on behalf of the GRHC in September.

Merl Paaverud, writes: “The work of Michael M. Miller and Acacia (Jonas) Stuckle at North Dakota State University Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection has received much deserved national recognition. The work of the GRHC has been instrumental in preserving and presenting the German-Russian heritage. ..”

The Rural Leadership North Dakota Program will also hold an international seminar in Brazil in the coming year. The mission of the RLND Program is to prepare and develop effective leaders to strengthen North Dakota. Participants in the RLND Program attend ten seminars over 18 months. Seven of the seminars will be held in North Dakota, one seminar will be in Minneapolis, another seminar in Washington DC and the international seminar will be in Brazil.

North Dakota to Brazil and back … witness to our shrinking world.

If you have any questions about this column or anything else I can help you with, please contact me at the NDSU Extension Service in Logan County at 754-2504. I would be glad to help.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller