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The Fargo Life Q&A: Laetitia Mizero Hellerud

The Fargo Life Q&A: Laetitia Mizero Hellerud

Laetitia is an enthusiastic resident of Fargo and claims it as her hometown even though she was born in Burundi and has lived in France, Rwanda and Burkina Faso. She even jokes that when people ask where she’s from her response is “I’m from Fargo” and when they ask about her accent, she jokes, “Oh, yes, I’m from SOUTH Fargo!” She and her children reached Fargo at a good time in 1998, where they found an anchor and a place to call home. You can read more about her love affair with Fargo in her book “Being at Home in the World.”

What surprised you the most about Fargo?

People take time for each other here and smile, look at you with friendliness. It’s a big community but feels small with how easy it is to make connections. Fargo has become much more diverse since our arrival and continues to attract people from all ethnic and lifestyle backgrounds.

What do you find weird about Fargo or the people?

The sense of community here is not common in individualistic cultures.

What did you know about Fargo before moving here?

Not much really, but when we found out we were coming to Fargo, I became more curious about the Midwest and started researching North Dakota and Fargo. Some of my American colleagues in Burkina Faso were very apprehensive which wasn’t reassuring.

What’s the one thing you wish Fargo had?

Even more ethnic stores and places to hang out – especially a nice Ethiopian restaurant. I miss large museums that bigger cities offer, but we are only a few hours away from Winnipeg and the Twin Cities.

What’s your favorite discovery about Fargo?

The friendliness of the people and the sense of community that we found here. I also loved how we didn’t have long commutes and how safe most of the neighborhoods are. Mutual friends and connections are easy to find – like an extended family.

My preferences keep evolving as the metro keeps growing. One of my favorite places is the YMCA where I have built a community of really good friends. Others include different parks, the libraries, the farmer’s market, many ethnic restaurants and other trendy eateries and cafes. The Red River Coffee Company happens to be one of my favorite places to meet with people for fun or business.

I also enjoy hanging out with family and friends as well as participating in community events available throughout the year – many of which are free. The F-M Area Symphony concerts are my newest discovery, and I am always wowed by the talents we have locally. Trollwood Performing Arts summer performances also never disappoint.

What’s the funniest question you’ve had from friends and family about living in Fargo?

None of my friends understand why I chose to stay in Fargo. I told one friend she needs to visit and maybe she will experience even a tiny bit of how I feel about this place. I say with pride that I am from Fargo because it feels like a betrayal to call somewhere else home.

My mother has visited and said it gives her peace to know we are truly part of the community. She saw people who were not worried to integrate and who were genuine and friendly.

 

What would you say to others considering a move to Fargo?

This town is the best kept secret. I have options to live elsewhere, but I choose to stay here. I am proud to call Fargo my home; my children know it as home, I met my husband here, and I’ve had opportunities to reach professional milestones here. Fargo is a friend.

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