“There are many instances when people assume that I don’t speak English, or that I am Indian, or that I speak Hindi because I’m South Asian… I think it’s amusing.”
"I know that I can walk around Northfield and not feel like an outsider."
"I dont feel that I can move about and not be noticed, but in a weird way sometimes I feel that I am not acknowledged. So it's being visbile but invisible."
“I don’t think people judge you by where you’re from.”
“[Northfield] is a confusing enough environment that it’s difficult to pigeonhole people.”
"Every time I enter a new situation I feel like I have to validate myself or explain to others why I deserve to be here."
“I feel the pressure of trying not to make people think that their assumptions are true."
“I’d like there to be more people of color, so my kids can see that people of color can have professional jobs."
“When you’re at a place where you have a pretty good experience, you forget that experience is not across the board. There’re places we need to confront our communities."
“Because I’m white, I think a lot of people see me as without race."
“This page [Carleton Microaggressions], modeled after a similar project at Oberlin College, is meant to remind members of the Carleton community that our community still struggles with issues of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, etc. We hope that this page can be used to raise awareness and conversations that will lead to more awareness within our community.”Carleton Office of Intercultural & International Life
"The Office of Intercultural & International Life (OIIL) fosters a campus-wide climate of respect at Carleton College. The office reflects the changing paradigms of the growth of many U.S. cultures reflected by currently enrolled students of color and international students and the needs of a diverse intercultural community. OIIL advocates for the promotion of a diverse and nondiscriminatory campus community, preparing students for pursuit of lifelong learning."Growing Up Healthy
“Growing Up Healthy seeks to increase the level of community connectedness experienced by marginalized families in Rice County.”Races in Northfield, Minnesota (MN) Detailed Stats
"This page provides detailed statistics about races in Northfield specifically in the years of 2000 and 2009. It has data that captures the relationship between language spoken and ancestries. The data also suggests a correlation between a person’s race and whether he/she is foreign born."Northfield - Diversity in the Classroom
"The New York Times did a project in 2006 on diversity in the classroom in more than 17,000 school districts across the nation. The project aims at showing immigration’s impact on the classroom. Northfield ranks second of six in diversity among cities in Rice County."Rice County Health Ranking
"The Rice County Health Rankings website presents data regarding people’s ability to get health care and their socioeconomic background. The page also compares Rice County’s figures with the state average as well as the national average."
A person’s identity is not visible on the first look. When you make a snap judgment about a person, you usually find out later that you missed who they really are by a long shot. On this website, I let people describe what “identity” and “diversity” mean to them. While I believe that conversations need to happen, I don’t think it is a journalist’s responsibility to challenge her interviewee’s mentality. Rather, it's just to listen to them and to reflect their views back to the community as accurately as possible. That’s what I’ve tried to do here. The people I interviewed were not chosen because they represent one or another kind of diversity. I simply believe everybody has a story. If it were possible, I would really love to talk to everyone at Carleton. With this modest project, I try to find a more personal entry point into the complex yet wonderful discourse of diversity. I was aided immensely in this project by Sade Smith, a Computer Science major at Carleton College. I am thankful to her for all her artistic and technical contributions. I would also like to thank Xiaodi Wang, my friend and photography enthusiast, who gave me valuable advice about taking photographs and also helped touch up the pictures.Kayla Tam firstname.lastname@example.org
Carleton Student Computer Science Major '13 Chicago, Illinois
Sade picked Carleton because she was given a very good financial aid package. When she visited, she found Northfield very different from her hometown of Chicago. “I was surprised at how many people weren’t of color,” she said. She’s aware that she can come off as “scary” because she’s a black woman. Sometimes, when she doesn’t want to socialize, she plays along with that stereotype so “people would leave [her] alone.” Her race influences her interaction with people in Carleton and in Northfield, she says. “I don’t feel that I can move around and not be noticed, but in a weird way sometimes I feel that I am not acknowledged. So it’s being visible but invisible.” She has had racial slurs directed at her in Northfield, but was never called names to her face in Chicago. These incidents made her very emotional and made her reflect on her race and the treatment she has received because of it. Despite some of the disadvantages being a person of color brings her, she sees a different perspective from other people because of it. Sade likes skateboarding and walking along the Cannon River. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Carleton Student Psychology Major '15 Colombo, Sri Lanka
Hiyanthi chose Carleton because the college seems friendly and welcoming to her based on what she read on the college's website. Carleton also provides her with a very good financial aid package which she would not have been able to attend college without. She likes the fact that international freshmen arrive on campus earlier than their American counterparts, to allow more time for acclimatizing and forming connections. She feels that more people are interested in getting to know her because people can tell from her accent and how she looks that she’s “not from around here.” It helps her make friends more easily. While there are things that other people see as a disadvantage to her, she considers them as humorous situations. For example, she doesn’t get all the cultural references American make or that people make assumptions about her. “There are many instances when people assume that I don’t speak English, or that I am Indian, or that I speak Hindi because I’m South Asian. None of that is true, I think it’s amusing.” But she has “no regrets” coming to Carleton as she’s “very happy” here and there are minimal distractions to her studies. Hiyanthi likes studying at Goodbye Blue Mondays because she loves the aroma of coffee and the atmosphere there. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Associate Director at Office of Intercultural and International Life, Carleton College St. Olaf graduate Raised in Redwood Falls, MN
Luyen and his family were originally from Vietnam. They immigrated to the U.S. in 1975, and they have been in the Minnesota ever since. He first came to Northfield as a student at St. Olaf. After living abroad for some time, he came back to Minnesota in 1999 to take a job offer at his Alma Mater. When asked how his identity influences his interaction with the Northfield community, Luyen shares different aspects of his identity. “One part of my identity might be of that of a St. Olaf alum who’s now working at Carleton. That can mean one thing to some people.” He says that sometimes St. Olaf students or staff members jokingly call him a “traitor” even though many St. Olaf graduates work in Carleton. “Another part of my identity can certainly be somebody who has lived outside of the U.S. for some period. Also, as an Asian or a Vietnamese-American, I’m not a part of the majority race around here or in the U.S.,” he said. “Sometimes people mistakenly think that I’m Thai because I have lived and worked in Thailand for many years and I’m married to a Thai person. I don’t mind that at all, but that’s not my birth identity.” When he was a student, he felt “insulated” from Northfield. Later, having gained some work experience, he became more aware of the town's racial dynamics, varying socioeconomic backgrounds and the availability of opportunity to different groups. Thinking back, he realizes that having a college degree helped him advance his career. He also discovered that many faculty members at the two campuses spend time “making the town a place they’re proud of.” That makes him think about his own connection with Northfield. “You work in the college, but do you belong to the town?” he asked. Compared to the small town (population 5,000) of Redwood Falls, Minnesota where he grew up, Luyen thinks Northfield (population 20,000 and with two liberal arts colleges) is more “metropolitan” both in terms of the size of its population and its reaction to people of different backgrounds. “When I visit my parents, I walk into that town where I grew up and people look at me and say ‘Oh, who’s that person?' But here, I know that I can walk around Northfield and don’t feel like an outsider.” Luyen likes strolling along Cannon River, sitting in the Japanese Garden in Carleton, and watching sunrise and sunsets at St. Olaf. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Associate Dean and Director of International Recruitment, Carleton Carleton College ‘82 Born in New York City, NY
Charlie’s great-grandfather from his mother’s side graduated from Carleton in 1887. He was a country doctor in Mantorville, MN and did some consulting with the Mayo Clinic in the late 1800s. Charlie’s grandfather went to Carleton for two years, but after serving in World War I, he chose to finish his studies at University of Minnesota. Charlie’s mother later also studied at Carleton. Charlie wasn’t sure about following the footsteps of his family members at first, but he liked the college and enrolled in 1978. After graduation, Charlie had a very rich and colorful career. He went to Africa for three years in the Peace Corps, and later returned to the continent on a Fulbright award for two more years. He also undertook a graduate program in African and Middle-Eastern history at Northwestern University. He didn’t finish his degree though because by then he'd started his family with his wife, Nalongue, from Togo, and also was traveling a lot as the assistant director at the Admissions office at Northwestern. He decided to come back to Carleton when he heard that Carleton was hiring an admission officer to work on international scholarships. In his college days at Carleton, there was only a tiny population of international students. While at graduate school in Northwestern, he realized that he enjoyed meeting international students, so he was excited to hear that Carleton was working on increasing its international population. When his wife worked as a nursing assistant in Chicago, people treated her as if she was the help, even though she was there to provide medical assistant. By the time she came to Northfield, though, she becomes more accustomed to the American social dynamics. “Anybody may walk into a situation and not realize that there could be hundreds of years of history in the background,” Charlie says of the confusion Nalongue experienced. It's a challenge for any two people from different cultures to raise a family, Charlie says. But for him, the challenges came mostly from within the family rather than from the community. It's important, he says, to find a middle ground for parenting techniques so while the children learn to be confident in the American setting, they also learn about their parents’ multicultural values. His children, he says, fit in pretty well in Northfield, but sometimes his daughter has had ignorant things said to her. While he thinks that’s part of being a teen, there could also be racial undertone to these situations. But in general, he thinks Northfield is quite open, partly because 20 percent of faculty members from the two college campuses were born outside of the U.S. and some of them raise their families here. “It’s a confusing enough environment that it’s difficult to pigeonhole people, and people relate to each other as individuals and not as stereotypes.” A food-lover, Charlie enjoys dining at Chapati. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Carleton Student Psychology Major '15 Minneapolis, MN
Nermine was born in Egypt and she moved to Minneapolis when she was nine years old. When applying for college, she didn’t think about coming to Carleton until she realized that she wanted to stay close to home and that she likes the Mid-West atmosphere. She found Carleton very “comfortable” in comparison to the other colleges she has visited. Some of her high school teachers encouraged her to mention her ethnic and religious background in order to get herself more attention from the admissions office at the college. She thinks that the “advantages” she has as an Egyptian Muslim balance out with the disadvantages. “Every time I enter a new situation I feel like I have to validate myself or explain to others why I deserve to be here,” she said. Nonetheless, she feels accepted at Carleton. “Regardless of people’s backgrounds, most Carleton students come with a very open mind. So even though they may not know a lot about cultures other than their own, they are willing to ask questions and learn.” In terms of the town, she finds that there’s less curiosity there than on the Carleton campus, to get to know people of different backgrounds. But she still has very positive feelings about Northfield. She understands that it’s natural for people to stare when they see a person who looks different from the kind they grew up with. Working as a volunteer with the Somali community in Faribault, Nemine has seen the refugee and Hispanic populations in that town grow, and the white community become a minority. As a result, a lot of racial tension and even acts of racism have arisen. “It’s important to remember that there’s racial tension in nearby towns while Northfield may not have these issues,” she says. Nermine loves the ice-cream at Hogan Brothers. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Administration Assistant at Office of Intercultural and International Life, Carleton College Carleton ’05, POSSE scholar Chicago, IL
Raised as a Latina in Chicago, Brisa arrived at Carleton College in 2001 as a scholar in the school's POSSE program, which supports public high school students with extraordinary potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Shortly after her graduation from Carleton in 2005, she returned to Chicago for two years. Then, having started a family, she and her husband decided to move back to Northfield and have now been living in the town for almost five years. “What helps the Northfield community be open and accepting is the fact that we have two campuses here,” she said. “Though Northfield is rather small, there is still a lot of diversity because we have students from different states and countries in town.” While she feels safe and comfortable in her neighborhood, she also feels “self-aware.” “Just because of general stereotypes that people might have about Latinos being louder or more obnoxious, we are more cautious about what we do in front of our guests. We don’t represent the entire group of Latinos in our family of five, but I feel the pressure of trying not to make people think that their assumptions are true.” Compared to her own experience of being raised in Chicago, Brisa prefers raising her children in Northfield for its safety and its good public school system. While she worries less about her children’s safety, she struggles with trying to provide her children with various opportunities. “But it’s a good struggle to have,” she said. “It’s better than not having those opportunities at all.” Raised Catholic and a native Spanish-speaker, Brisa finds going to Spanish Catholic mass on Sunday comforting and reaffirming of her roots. She says that being with a large Latino community reminds her of what she wants her children to be exposed to. * The Posse Foundation identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Volunteer Coordinator at Northfield Middle SchoolCarleton Alum Buffalo, New York
Anita moved to Northfield, where she'd attended college at Carleton, because her husband got a job at the college. They had both liked Northfield as students, so thought it would be a good place to raise their children. There aren't many African Americans in Northfield and Anita says that sometimes people are guarded towards her in their interactions. But generally, she’s treated fairly at her workplace and feels she can bring a different perspective and experience to the table. In terms of parenting, she said, “I’d like there to be more people of color, so my kids can see that people of color can have professional jobs.” Sometimes, she feels that she needs to take her children to the Twin Cities, a 45-minute drive to the north, to see people of color. But she hasn’t thought about moving there because commuting to work or school would be a hassle for her family. Also, she says, Northfield has good public school systems partly because of the presence of two colleges in town. And, there’re a lot of good cultural programs, so she thinks that it’s a good trade-off living here. She’s happy that her children can get a good education and grow up in a safe environment in Northfield. “We just have to find another way to address the challenges,” she said. Anita enjoys taking a walk in the Arboretum. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Associate Professor of English and American Studies, Carleton Stanford B.A.; Cornell, M.A., Ph.D. Grew up in California
Adriana has moved around a lot. Brought up in California, she went to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY for graduate school. She had her first job in Arizona. Later, she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and then finally managed to make it to the Mid-West, where she's now an Associate Professor of English at Carleton College. She didn’t know much about Carleton when she applied for the job there. She was in a big public university and she wanted a different sort of job. She came to Carleton in January for her interview, and she taught a sample class to a very small group of American Studies students. She was impressed by their enthusiasm in the discussion about images of feminine beauty and “Latinidad” (Latino identity and solidarity). She got the job and she moved here in 2003. Northfield is a small place and that’s been a challenge for her. “The community tends to be pretty cohesive, people know each other, so getting to know people is hard.” When she joined the Historical Society and interacted with fellow parents because of her son, she became more familiar with the community. Still, there are moments when she feels she can’t quite belong to Northfield in the ways that others do. She doesn’t go to church and she doesn’t identify with Catholicism. She debated with herself whether to go to church just to be closer to the community, but finally decided against it. Also, she finds the community not quite knowledgeable of how to interact with outsiders. As a member of the Latino community, she sees the marginalization of Latinos of a different socioeconomic class than herself. “I have the privilege of being a professor and being white so I can pass quite easily and people don’t instantly say ‘you’re different from us.’ That means that I can play a role in helping people see that Latinidad is heterogeneous. But to watch those exclusive moments - for example, the town is pretty segregated - it’s hard.” She recalls the controversy around Jesse James Days, an annual community festival in which the last bank robbery of the Jesse James gang, which took place in Northfield in 1882, is reenacted. When the news was announced that one of the reenactments would take place in Spanish, there was immense community pushback. “The truth is that would have happened anywhere. Northfield is not unique. But when you’re at a place where you have a pretty good experience, you forget that experience is not across the board. There are places we need to confront our communities.” Despite these alienating aspects of Northfield she has observed, Adriana has learned to love Northfield. In her second year here, she had a pulmonary embolism and was hospitalized for a week. She couldn’t work and had to stay at home. People dropped off meals at her home for a whole month and made sure her family was fine. That experience made a huge impression on her. “We barely knew people, and yet they were so kind and welcoming.” Adriana loves running in the Arboretum when there’s no snow on the trail. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Associate Professor of Mathematics, Carleton Carleton’94 Park Rapids, MN
Eric joined the faculty at Carleton in 2005. He teaches in the Math department. He thinks that being a parent of multi-racial children (he is white and his wife, Anita Fisher Egge, who is also interviewed, is African-American) puts him in a slightly different position in terms of parenting. He thinks about things differently such as how his children interact with the Northfield community; and also how people would react to his children and how he would manage those reactions. “My own identity doesn’t seem to me to be an influence on my interaction with people, but if I think back on it, I’m pretty sure it’s a factor. Because I’m white, I think a lot of people see me as without race. So a lot of the things I notice about race I know second-hand from my wife and my children.” He says that he interacts with Northfield either as a professor or as a parent. He works with a group of third-graders, which include his younger son, on challenging Math problems once a week. Working in an academic institution gives him the chance to meet “remarkable” people all time. “Every term, I get to meet new students, they are all different and interesting. Regularly, we have new faculty members. Which I like a lot.” Eric thinks the Weitz Center for Creativity is a very nice space. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.
Carleton Student Political Science Major ’13 Nanjing, China
Carleton College was not Max’s first choice when he was applying for colleges in the U.S. He was aiming to attend Middlebury College but was not accepted. Frustrated, he decided to go to wherever that accepted him next and Carleton’s acceptance offer came through. “People are very nice, maybe it’s because this is the Mid-West. People stop their cars for you when you cross the street,” he said. He thinks that people are pretty accepting at Carleton. “[Carleton] is a very liberal place. I don’t think people judge you by where you’re from. Whether you are an American or an international student, you’re doing the same work as everybody else. I don’t see a big disadvantage due to my identity,” he said. Pause audio before exiting. Exit popup by clicking on the upper left corner.