City lights against a darkened sky turn Minneapolis into an Art Deco piece.
I’d been anticipating this part of my trip for so long.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have always seemed like super interesting cities to me. They have a lot going on in terms of awesome city life, and they have plenty of international issues to work on.
We had to be up pretty early on our first day to get to Columbia Heights High School for our screening there. We woke up to the sights of an amazing Minnesota sunrise, orange October skies. The students there were diverse and a fun group to talk to- lots of Somali, Vietnamese, and other first generation students who more easily understood the North Korean situation. The first group we spoke to was rowdy yet intelligent. This one kid, a Somalian guy, kept talking to me about how thought we should just overrun the dictatorship. He was fun to talk to, and you could see how his own experiences shaped a lot of that.
That leads up to my screening at University of Minnesota, where I had my first challenging questioner. The older guy who stood out from the crowd made more of a statement about how we should get the US and ROK militaries involved. Despite disagreeing with most of what he suggested, I got to talk to him afterwards and see how his time in the US Navy shaped a lot of the strong feelings he had to the Koreas. Afterwards, I found a traumatic event made him aversive to shaking my hand, so we hugged it out instead.
That night, the KSA and the other student groups involved took us out for dinner. We went to a place called Greenspoon, which served Korean fusion food. I’ve missed kimchi so much. The best part of what I had was the Rizza- rice pizza. Basically ham, beef, olives, onions, and kimchi topped with mozzarella cheese over rice. Interesting, but delicious.
They were a really fun group, and afterwards, we went to the boba tea shop where Michelle works. I got a guava iced tea with mango jelly. There, my new friends dubbed me 태 호, so now I finally have a Korean name.
We spent the Saturday exploring the Mall of America- the largest mall in the country, I believe. This was after a morning of some much needed sleeping-in, taking care of some busywork, and rescuing Chrissy from the impound lot.
The mall itself was a big expanse. While I didn’t have much of an interest in buying anything, being there was the experience, and I got to enjoy having a look at the whole complex- indoor amusement park included.
We went to different quirky shops, and some familiar retailers as our host Han wanted to get some new clothes. I spent a good portion of the time on the phone with my mom, then with Ryan Oliver, so my brain could stay stimulated along with my eyes.
We also jumped into one of several collegiate gear stores so I could take pictures wearing gear of the different schools set along our route.
Afterwards, we went into St. Paul to eat at iPho by Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant we had heard so much about. There is an infamous pho challenge, to eat a bucket’s worth of pho in 45 minutes. Unfortunately we got there too late for the challenge. Instead I stuck with an extra large bowl, which itself is an understatement.
Pho is one of my favourite meals, so it was a delight.
After a Vietnamese food dinner, we wandered the foggy metropolis for a little while, taking a nice walk down by Stone Arc bridge. Michelle’s boyfriend, Han was nice to show us around. Our visit coincided with the yearly zombie run which made the exploration of the city quite entertaining.
We had the next day off as well. We started the morning by Skyping with our Northeast team. Afterwards, we went to church with Han.
Church was on the same block as his apartment complex, so it was a short walk and not nearly as cold as it would’ve been if he lived further away. The church was really interesting. It catered largely to international students at the University of Minnesota and so it has attendees from all over the world. The international flavour was only made literal during the after-church potluck in the church basement.
We spent the afternoon doing laundry, which is a sudden luxury when you’re out on the road. After that adventure, we went out to Minneapolis’ legendary Eat Street where you can enjoy the cuisine of a ton of different ethnicities. We found Boolaay, a Somali cuisine, and for just a little money, got ourselves piles of rice and chicken and goat. It was a true feast.
After that dinner, we went to spend the night in St. Paul with a cousin of Elaine’s. It, for the most part wrapped up our time in the Twin Cities as the next day was booked with screenings end-to-end.
We ventured out to Zimmerman in the morning which had a lovely smaller feel to it after the Twin Cities and it looked awesome in the fall. After Zimmerman, we had a screening back in the cities at Harding High School.
Finally, the evening brought us back out towards all the lakes for split showings at Bethel University and Bethany College of Missions. We were able to stay with Travis from Bethany who was the nicest. He took me in to his apartment, and I watched a tad bit of Back To The Future 3 before going to bed in time for an early wake up.
We later found the bags of gifts he left for us. They were loaded with junk food, bread, bananas, chips, cookies, Tums, mouthwash, and even cheap toys for the road. It was like Nomad life Christmas. That guy was awesome!
Minneapolis. St. Paul. Bloomington. Surrounding suburbs.
You all were great.
Mall of America.
There were too many things that made you such a good fit for me.
All that diversity. Somalis. Hmongs. Bosnians. The cities that take in folks from global crises everywhere. Just the front lines of some major social issues I’d love to work with in the future.
And the city life. Always something going on. Glad we got there in time for the city’s zombie run. Twins, Vikings, always good stuff happening.
Four seasons. Maybe a bit too much to the extreme, but hey, it’s an experience.
Closeness to the border. 10K lakes.
Absolutely loved my visit. Hope to see more of you in the future.