One Town One Title Panel Discussion

panel discussion image Panel Discussion on Immigration February 26th

Van Horn Public Library continues its annual community reading program One Town, One Title with a Panel Discussion on the topic of immigration in Room A/B of Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Pine Island at 7pm on Thursday, February 26. Attendees should use the new addition (west) entrance. 

Panelists include Khiengchai Fulton, an immigrant from Laos currently living in Oronoco; Alyssa Humpal and Shannon Svendsen from Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Migrant Head Start in Rochester who run a migrant and seasonal Head Start program; Prentiss Sayeweh, an immigrant from Liberia; and Ahmed Osman, an immigrant from Somalia who is the Employment Program Manager at Intercultural Mutual Aid Association in Rochester.

Khiengchai Fulton was one of six children in a Laotian family that immigrated to Rochester, MN in 1980. The Rochester Covenant Church sponsored her family and played a tremendous role in assisting them with the transition. After being the first of her siblings to graduate from college, Khiengchai joined the Peace Corps and served in a health and nutrition role in Niger, Africa. It was there that she met her future husband, Joe, who was also a Peace Corps volunteer. She married him almost 18 years ago and they now live in Oronoco where they homeschool their five children.

Migrant Head Start (Region XII) programs offer comprehensive child development programming for children birth through five and their families. Services are developed collaboratively among staff, parents, and community partners in order to meet the mission, “to cultivate life-long learning in children and families” and in a way that accommodates the participant’s culture. The Migrant Head Start program provides a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood development; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; and parent involvement. In addition, the entire range of Migrant Head Start services is responsive and appropriate to each child’s and family’s developmental, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage and experience.

Prentiss Sayeweh was born on May 29, 1963, in Karnwee Town, Liberia.  He immigrated to the United States in 1996 to attend graduate school at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.  Between 1993 and 1996, he lived in Danane, Ivory Coast as a refugee from the civil war that took place in Liberia from 1989 to 2003.  Currently, he lives in Rochester, Minnesota with his family.  Prentiss has seven children and two grandchildren.  He works with the Minnesota Department of Transportation as the Consultant Coordinator for Southeastern Minnesota highway and bridge development program and projects.

The Intercultural Mutual Aid Association was founded as a nonprofit organization in Rochester, Minnesota in 1984 to respond to the complex needs of thousands of refugees resettling to the area from war-torn Southeast Asia. IMAA provides culturally and linguistically appropriate support services that foster the well-being and independence of refugees and immigrants in their new home. The IMAA Employment Services program exists to assist refugees and immigrant struggling to find a job and become self-sufficient. IMAA Employment Services offers a wide range of support such as case management, job search assistance, job coaching, and employment related support services such as childcare assistance, transportation, housing, and referrals

Several other events in the community reading program collaboration between Van Horn and Zumbrota Public Library are on tap through March 9th. The Book Discussion for The Book of Unknown Americans will take place at Better Brew Coffeehouse in Pine Island at 6pm on Wednesday, March 4. There will be a showing of the film Sweet Land at the State Theatre in Zumbrota at 7:30pm on Friday, March 6. Zumbrota Public Library will be wrapping up the series of events with a Book Discussion for My Ántonia at the library at 6:30pm on Monday, March 9.

All events are free of charge.  For more information, visit or  This project was funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as well as Pine Area People for the Arts.