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April 24, 2008
Anoka-Ramsey Community College honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, students have developed and coordinated a Chinese garden to be planted on the shore of the Rum River, directly along side Anoka's historic amphitheater. The public is invited to participate in planting the garden May 1 and 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are also welcome.

Chinese exchange faculty member Tong Li, Phi Theta Kappa student Sarah Swenson, Windego Park Society Administrator Alyssa Baguss and Board Member Paul Pierce III, and Anoka Mayor Bjorn Skogquist

On Earth Day, April 22, Anoka-Ramsey Community College Chinese exchange faculty member Tong Li, Phi Theta Kappa student Sarah Swenson, Windego Park Society Administrator Alyssa Baguss and Board Member Paul Pierce III, and Anoka Mayor Bjorn Skogquist gathered along the Rum River in downtown Anoka near the amphitheater to dedicate an area for a Chinese garden. The public is encouraged to participate through donations or assistance planting the garden May 1 and May 2.

Students have garnered an undeveloped area (shown) along the Rum River Anoka-Ramsey Community College honor students have garnered an undeveloped area (shown) along the Rum River near the Amphitheater in downtown Anoka to plant a Chinese garden. The public is welcome to help with the planting, through donations or participation, May 1 and 2.

"We have been waiting so long to do this project," says Sarah Swenson, Phi Theta Kappa's vice-president of scholarship. "The project honors and embraces our sister college in Zhaoqing, China and reaches out to the local community."

"I am very excited about this project," adds Tong Li, the current Chinese exchange faculty member at Anoka-Ramsey. "This garden is symbolic. It plants the seeds of understanding between people and cultures."

The global connection is widened further by Bora Kuyomba, the project's co-coordinator and Phi Theta's vice-president of service. Kuyomba moved to the U.S. from Tanzania two years ago. "This project not only fulfills our service learning requirement, it strengthens the college's ties to the city, the community and the world."

The project's community connection is joined by local government and the Windego Park Society, which is dedicated to the restoration of Anoka's historic amphitheater.

"When Anoka-Ramsey student Sara Swenson approached me with an idea to plant a Chinese flower garden in a city park, I was both pleased and flattered," says Anoka Mayor Bjorn Skogquist. "The students' creativity, excitement and energy are exactly what are needed now. It is our job as citizens and community leaders to help efforts like this one succeed."

The students' research for the project unearthed that China has contributed the rose, lilac, daphnia, species of the rhododendrons and the peony to the world. The project has already received a $150 cash donation. Mickman Brothers in Ham Lake has donated $175 in plants. Along with donations, the project needs more than 20 students and people from the community to help with the two-day planting.

"This is a great feature for the community," says Alyssa Baguss, Windego Park Society administrator. "This site has such historical significance but, without having been used in so long, people have forgotten."

For more information, contact the college's Phi Theta Kappa faculty advisor Gordy Wax at 763-433-1199.