“Don’t Cry for Me, Minnesota”: A Farewell to My Home State – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
My college graduation coincided with the exciting news that I received a teaching assistantship in Zhuhai, China, for the 2015-2016 academic year. I was not only happy to actually have employment (at least in the short-term), but I looked forward to living and working abroad and learning more about Zhuhai, the Guangdong Province, and China as a whole.
However, this sense of excitement has a flipside: given that I will be in Zhuhai for ten months, it made me reevaluate my love for my own “homeland”: Minnesota, USA. Strangely enough, I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about embracing my American identity. I admire many aspects of the USA, such as its can-do pioneering spirit, and try to realize the freedoms and privileges that I received (and receive) solely based on my American citizenship. However, due to the USA’s controversial history (especially its maltreatment of Native Americans, African Americans, and other frequently marginalized groups) and stereotypes that emphasize “American exceptionalism”, I am sometimes wary of being considered an arrogant, ignorant, and hypocritical person due to my nationality.
My relationship with my home state, Minnesota, is much more loving and uncomplicated than the one with my home country. I feel that, for better or for worse, Minnesota is often portrayed as a much more polite, modest, hard-working, and friendlier microcosm of the USA. Since I feel that these traits better reflect my personality, and I have noticed that many of my family, friends, and coworkers possess these characteristics as well, I am much more accepting towards my Minnesotan-ness. Furthermore, my upbringing and life experiences highlighted the beauty of life in Minnesota. In school, we learned about the rich indigenous cultures and traditions of the Dakota and Ojibwe. My own family heritage consists of Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish immigrants who came to Minnesota and toiled hard to build better lives for themselves; these groups, and others, have made Minnesota an intriguing blend of cultural diversity. I grew up surrounded by lush pine forests, rocky cliffs, and the sparkling blue waters of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and lived to the rhythm of trains and ore carriers hauling off iron ore on Lake Superior. For these reasons and so many more, I recognize how much Minnesota has shaped my personality, values, and overall being, and this has given me a deep love for my home state.
Despite my Minnesotan patriotism, I’ve also been born with a great sense of curiosity and interest in other cultures and sense of wanderlust. Thus, I feel that it is time to move on and explore the rest of our great big Earth. As I approach my Zhuhai journey and the opportunity to adopt a Guangdong-ian/ Chinese spirit, it feels a tad bittersweet to leave behind my dear state. I will miss Minnesota and everything that I associate with it: agates, Judy Garland, Prince, Trampled By Turtles, Peanuts, highly literate cities, the Aerial Lift Bridge, Split Rock Lighthouse, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox, the world’s largest ball of twine, wild rice, lefse, injera…the list goes on and on (though I won’t miss its long, Arctic winters). However, I will find new opportunities and passions in Zhuhai, China, and beyond, and while I will always be a Minnesotan at heart, I can’t wait to see how these traveling experiences contribute to the mosaic of my personality.
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).
For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.
Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu