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Provincialism? Not here

I'm from North Dakota. No, I haven't lived here for 20 plus years until recently, but I can assure you, I'm still a North Dakotan.

You can scrub and scrub, learn a new accent, die your hair pink, forget your name and move to Tristan da Cunha and you're still a North Dakotan.

You see it works this way; people are like wine. From their youth they take on the elements and attributes of their environment whether they want to or not. It's a good thing. For me those elements were moderately fertile soil, tall grass, clean air, ranch work, rolling hills, few words, don't show emotion, go to church on Sunday, eat hearty, help anyone who's down on their luck and don't throw away a good garment just because it's got a little age on it, especially a cap or hat. Now transplant that person into the middle of a diversified Los Angeles or New York City and it makes for an interesting adventure.

Do you know that in Beverly Hills, Calif. a thin necked man dressed in a suit with manicured nails, when cornered, would rather jab verbally than with his fists? And that the women there find that to be extremely attractive?

Do you also know that people in Los Angeles can make a North Dakota steak melt in your mouth as quick as moist meringue on a lemon pie? That they can maneuver through fast moving congested traffic better than Jeff Gordon and most any Andretti. And that they can breathe air with half of the oxygen content of North Dakota air, surf with dolphins, survive powerful rip tides, scoff at an earthquake and snowboard snowy summits, all in one day.

Do you also know that their children, boys or girls, can hit a curve ball by the age of 10, learn three different languages just from other kids on their block, visit neighborhoods full of people from anywhere in the world, see costumes that you've never seen, customs that you never knew existed, hear sweet, new music, and eat tasty, exotic foods all while enjoying glisteningly smiles on faces of every color within just a few miles of their home?

In fact, most American cities are that way these days. And thankfully, to our kids, "color" is simply a color and diversity is like having a lot more television channels to enjoy.

But guess what? Those big cities don't have a thing on Dickinson. There are over 400 very sharp students from 30 countries living here, attending the university, who sincerely want to get to know you better. Take them away and it'd be like food without flavoring, a burger without fries, dancing without music, football without pads and Easter without a bunny.

I heard a speaker at a seminar recently say that, "If all of the basketball players on one team were alike, it would make for a very bad team." I think that might also be true for everything else, including Dickinson, the region, the country and the world. This globe's diversity makes it an incredibly interesting place and especially intriguing when you get to know the people behind the smiles. And you and your children are in a position to take advantage of it, as though you'd traveled the world, without leaving town.

And, in case you're wondering, Tristan da Cunha is 1,750 miles due west of South Africa or 2,088 miles due east of South America. You can't miss it. But if you're going there, be sure to bring a boat.

-- Dickinson resident Holten is the Dickinson State University Foundation communications coordinator.

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