About Concordia Language Villages

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the words - inspiring courageous global citizens since 1961

Our Mission

The mission of Concordia Language Villages is to inspire courageous global citizens.

A courageous global citizen lives responsibly by:

  • Appreciating and seeking to understand diverse cultural perspectives
  • Communicating with confidence and cultural sensitivity in multiple languages
  • Respecting human dignity and cultivating compassion
  • Engaging critically and creatively with issues that transcend boundaries
  • Advancing a more just, peaceful and sustainable world for all

Who We Are

Deep in the North Woods of Minnesota, we create a place that is both culturally authentic and uniquely our own. In the Language Villages, everything from the music played to the dishes used in the dining hall reflect the culture each was designed to represent. Immerse yourself in the world of a native speaker, where you can truly learn to live a language, not just speak it.

Our History

We’ve been inspiring courageous global citizens since 1961, when Gerhard Haukebo, a Concordia College faculty member, suggested an experimental program using cultural immersion techniques to teach language. Concordia College sponsored the project, renting a camp in central Minnesota to host a two-week German language program with 72 students aged 9-12. The experiment was a resounding success.

A French program was added the following year, followed by Norwegian and Spanish in 1963 and Russian in 1966. New languages were added year after year, expanding the programs and cultural immersion experiences.

As the camps grew in popularity, leasing land and building temporary Villages became more of a challenge. The grand idea of constructing permanent, architecturally accurate cultural Villages was born.

Construction of the first permanent site, the Norwegian Language Village Skogfjorden, began in 1969, followed by the German Language Village, Waldsee, in 1978 and the French Language Village, Lac du Bois, in 1988. Today, Concordia Language Villages is comprised of eight unique sites that transport visitors to international environments, all nestled in the beautiful North Woods of Minnesota lakes country. Other sites are leased for summer programs, and new permanent sites are planned for future development.




Concordia Language Villages is privileged to be run by world-class leaders who hold responsibility for the programs, run day-to-day operations and set strategic direction for the future.

Mary Maus Kosir

Executive Director

Executive Director Mary Maus Kosir is a dynamic leader with a successful track record in education administration, international program development and entrepreneurship. Originally from Bemidji, Minn., Mary holds a B.A. in English and German, a graduate degree in Higher Education Administration and International Development Education, and has been honored as both a Fulbright scholar and a Bosch fellow.

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Nicole Ellis

Director of Marketing & Enrollment

Nicole Ellis is the director of marketing and enrollment for Concordia Language Villages, overseeing all enrollment and marketing functions including media production, data and systems management, customer engagement and digital and print advertising. She holds a bachelor’s degree from NDSU and a master’s from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She has worked in public relations, marketing and communications for non-profit, healthcare and sports organizations.

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Ellen Plekrud Frierson

Program Director

Ellen Plekrud Frierson is the program director for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish Language Villages. She holds a B.A. in English and Theater, an M.A. in International Educational Development as well as certificates in TESOL and Nonprofit Management. Ellen's career began at Concordia Language Villages, where she was on staff at Waldsee for 10 years after eight years as a villager.

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Martin Graefe

Senior Group Director

Martin Graefe is the senior group director and director for the Concordia Language Training Center. He has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages since 1995, serving eight years as director for year-round programs and ten years as the associate director for operations. Martin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota and a master’s degree in business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Amanda Fie Hand

Program Director

Amanda Fie Hand is the program director for the Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish Language Villages. On staff since 1991, she formerly served as dean of Skovsøen, the Danish Language Village. Fie holds a bachelor's in International Studies, a graduate certificate in Montessori Early Childhood Education, a master’s in Teaching and a Minnesota teaching license.

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Marc Johnson

Director of Development

Director of Development Marc Johnson is a proven fundraising professional with a successful record of achieving significant results. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Marc has spent his career in non-profit administration and development. He spent over nine years at the American Swedish Institute building the external relations team for a world-class cultural center and museum.

Mollie Nelson

Associate Director of Health & Wellness

Dr. Mollie Nelson has over twenty years of experience focused on global health education. Her career began as a trauma/ER nurse in the Air Force and since then she has obtained graduate degrees in ethnobotany, medical anthropology and nursing education. She has conducted research in the U.S. and in a wide range of cross-cultural healthcare settings including herbal medicine in Kyrgyzstan and traditional medical practices in Guatemala. Along with being the Associate Director of Health and Wellness at Concordia Language Villages, she is an adjunct at Austin Community College and at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine and serves on numerous advisory boards.

Jon 幸 Kō Suomala

Director of Finance and Administrative Services

Jon 幸 Kō Suomala is the director of finance and administrative services. Prior to joining the Language Villages, Jon worked in the banking, manufacturing, construction and agricultural industries. Jon holds a master's degree in business administration and a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics. Having studied and worked in Japan, he is a former staff member at Mori no Ike, the Japanese Language Village.

Danielle Thorson

HR Business Partner

Danielle Thorson serves as the HR Business Partner at Concordia Language Villages, where she collaborates closely with Concordia College Human Resources to stay informed about the latest trends, best practices, regulatory updates and emerging technologies in the fields of human resources, talent management and employment law.

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Our Locations

Our culturally authentic, year-round sites for Finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish are on Turtle River Lake, near Bemidji, Minn. The Bemidji site also has a year-round administrative office. Other sites leased by Concordia Language Villages are at camps located throughout Minnesota. Our main office is located on the campus of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. Moorhead is the home to our enrollment team as well as many administrative and support staff positions.  

View Our Locations

Site Rental

Just north of Bemidji, Minn., Concordia Language Villages is beautifully nestled in the North Woods on the shores of Turtle River Lake, making it an ideal setting for your next retreat, workshop, conference, reunion, banquet or wedding. From September through May, Turtle River Lake can accommodate groups of 25 to 120. We look forward to welcoming you!

Annual Reports

Concordia Language Villages structures each Annual Report to highlight the newest innovations and achievements of the past year. The reports delve into program development, spotlight community members and provide the year’s statistical and financial information.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Building Bridges with Language and Cultural Competencies

Concordia Language Villages is committed to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion in our programming and employment. Concordia Language Villages affirms a diversity of identities, experiences and perspectives in our programming and employment opportunities, leading all who learn, play and work here to honor difference with respectful understanding and to practice courageous global citizenship, in line with our mission, without regard for race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, military status, age or socioeconomic status.

To truly understand the cultural context of another person’s thinking and doing, knowing their language, even just some of their language, opens doors for establishing interpersonal relationships and builds bridges that will lead to increased productivity and create a competitive edge. The experiential setting of a Concordia Language Villages language and cultural immersion program provides the ideal environment to encounter, discover and explore another culture. In a supportive setting and surrounded by a community of learners, real work gets done toward building cross-cultural competencies and language skills.

Media Inquiries

For all media inquires, please contact clv@cord.edu. For information regarding Concordia College, please visit ConcordiaCollege.edu.

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We are a program of Concordia College

Concordia Language Villages is a program of Concordia College, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Located in Moorhead, Minn., Concordia College is a private liberal arts college and a recognized leader in global education.

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Accredited by the American Camp Association

Concordia Language Villages is accredited by the American Camp Association, the nation’s leading organization of camp operators, ensuring compliance with national standards and practices.

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Accredited by Cognia

Concordia Language Villages’ high school credit programs are accredited by Cognia, a leading academic certification and accreditation organization accepted by most U.S. schools and school districts.

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