Ashley & Mark

  • Ashley and Mark, Minneapolis, MN

“He said that in the past thirty years, it was the last time he cried.”

Ashley’s story:

My parents came here in 1985 so my dad could go to the University of Minnesota and get his PhD. My dad always talks about the first time he felt the cold here in Minneapolis, said it felt below zero – even though it was probably more like forty degrees outside. He said that in the past thirty years, it was the last time he cried.

The first time I went to Haiti I was so surprised that everybody looked like me. I’ve never experienced that before. It was after the earthquake so there was a little bit of devastation from that still. It smelled really good and the food was really fresh everywhere I went.

On New Year’s Day, we make a lot of soup. It has meat and carrots and flour balls, and we invite everybody over that we know and we all eat soup. Then, we fall asleep and afterwards go to somebody else’s house and do the same exact thing, over and over again, all day on New Year’s Day.

Everybody else in my family speaks French and Creole, but since my mom was learning to speak English when I was learning to talk, I only speak English. I want to learn, just so people stop making fun of me at family events.

Mark’s story:

My mom was born in Germany and then lived in South Africa for I think twenty or thirty years. After that, she moved here. My grandmother was American. We do German stuff at Christmas. We do Advent calendars and we have a pickle on a Christmas tree and the person that finds it gets an extra present.

My mom probably claims South African heritage more than German. When my step-grandma passed away, my mom took all the decorations – so our house is just full of them. We have a lot of statues of South African birds. There’s some wood carvings, a mother-daughter statue in ivory, all sorts of stuff like that. I went to South Africa when I was thirteen. It’s in the Southern Hemisphere so when we visited we went to these awesome beaches. We went on a safari. It was just a different vibe than here, but I was too young to remember a lot of the culture and stuff like that.

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