Hello, Family and Friends!

It’s time again for another new year’s letter from the Anvari-Clarks! (Any time between Jan 1 and March 21 is fair game for “New Year”!)

PhD graduation, in the oh-so-flattering academic regalia.

This year saw a tad bit of change for us. Jeffrey finished his PhD (in Social Work, dissertation on financial behavioral health – or how when we have a tough time paying bills it impacts stress and health and addictions, etc.) and accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, ND. In July, we sold our home in Baltimore, said farewell to dear friends, and drove in two cars, over 3 days, to Grand Forks.

Omid, Zaynab, Elizabeth, & Mr. Peanut.

A few weeks later, Zaynab and Omid started 8th and 3rd grades. (They’re now 14 and 9 years old – yipes!) They’ve settled in well and made friends. Zaynab plays trumpet in 2 school bands and does set design for the school musical (Matilda). Omid has gotten involved in Cub Scouts and is really enjoying the outings and earning badges. Anahita is working part-time doing physical therapy home visits with a small local company. With the rest of the time, she schleps Zaynab between schools (HS for math, MS for everything else, since topic-wise she’s a grade ahead), and she’s perfecting her Persian and Indian cooking.

Now for the obvious questions – where the heck IS Grand Forks and what’s life like?!

We’re an hour north of Fargo, on the North Dakota / Minnesota border. (As far as latitude, we’re closer to the Arctic than Toronto and Montreal. We’re 4.5 hours from Minneapolis, and get to visit Jeffrey’s sister, Elizabeth, and many cats on long weekends). Grand Forks has a population ~60,000. There’s a Super Target, 3 Starbucks, 2 High Schools, and the flag ship state university. There’s an air force base near by, and the university has major programs in aerospace, pilot training, drones, Mars preparations, etc. There’s LOTS of farm land… potatoes, sunflowers, sugar beets are major crops.

All-you-can-eat sushi
restaurant in Fargo, ND
Anahita, having just landed her triple axel.

The parks and rec facilities are great – Anahita and the kids took lessons to learn ice skating, (hockey is HUGE here). Jeffrey has taken up biking (during the warmer months) and snow shoeing and Nordic / cross-country skiing. There have been times when it’s gotten cold (-20s, with windchill bringing it much colder), so when it hits +20s, it feels downright balmy!

We’ve gotten to meet Bahá’ís from all over the state, and are doing activities with the Fargo and Turtle Mountain Reservation communities, both in person and online.

A “sun dog”, looking outside our garage.

All in all, life here is good. People are friendly and pretty laid back. It’s enough of a “small town” that we see work colleagues at the kids’ school and scout functions. Driving anywhere in town (including commute) is 15 minutes. But it’s metropolitan enough to have a thriving arts and sports scene, newspaper, and to support a number of international groceries and restaurants – 1 Indian, 1 Vietnamese, 1 West African, etc.

We’ve got an international airport (GFK), so come visit us!

Wishing you much warmth and love,
The Anvari-Clarks – Anahita, Jeffrey, Zaynab, and Omid

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