Memory of woman killed in 9/11 attacks lives on at Concordia Language Villages


"Learn a foreign language," reads an entry in a "top 100" list of life goals left behind by Ann Nicole Nelson, a North Dakota woman killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

This and many others would ultimately go unfulfilled, but Nelson's spirit and passion for learning will live on at the Concordia Language Villages near Bemidji, where her parents dedicated a memorial garden to her on Friday.

It was a place she loved visiting, traveling from her hometown of Stanley, North Dakota, to attend Skogfjorden, the Norwegian Village, for six summers as a teenager, the Bemidji Pioneer reports.

The paper says the garden has seven multi-colored circles of paver stones, which symbolize the Seven Sisters mountain range in Norway, and virtues that "people should look to possess in their lives."

Nelson was a bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, an investment firm that occupied the upper floors of One World Trade Center, according to her memorial site. She was 30.

The Concordia Language Villages is an educational "camp" in which attendees – who are referred to as "villagers" – are immersed in the culture of the language they're studying, including eating ethnic dishes and listening to music, the official website says.

The goal is to give villagers a deeper understanding of any of the 15 languages Concordia offers.

Over the years, the Villages have gained quite the reputation and a long list of distinguished visitors, including the ambassadors of several European nations. According to Concordia, Chelsea Clinton and film director Alexander Payne are among notable former villagers.

A lasting legacy

The memorial garden is the latest effort by Nelson's parents to realize many of the dreams their daughter wrote down in her "top 100" list but didn't live to fulfill.

A few years after their daughter's death, Gary and Jenette Nelson discovered the list on her work laptop, which was given to them after the World Trade Center attacks, according to a piece in the New York Times.

One of the entries, "buy a home in North Dakota," came to fruition last year with the opening of Annie's House in the Bottineau Winter Park ski area, KXNews reports.

According to its website, Annie's House provides an "integrated, adaptive ski facility" to accommodate disabled children and young adults.

In 2003, Minot State University rededicated its performance venue as Ann Nicole Nelson Hall after her parents gave the school a "gracious gift" in their daughter's name.

Ann Nelson attended MSU, though later graduated from Carleton College, her website says.

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